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  • Classic novels, GLBT, Great Reads, Librarian's Choice, New, Nicola, realistic fiction, Troubled teens trying to put their past behind them

    YA classics (part one)

    12.11.18 | Permalink | Comment?

    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.


  • Art, Great Reads, Librarian's Choice, New Zealand, Nicola, You might like

    You might like…books about art and artists (Part 1 of ? )

    24.05.18 | Permalink | Comments Off on You might like…books about art and artists (Part 1 of ? )

    Book cover courtesy of the SyndeticsI’ve been inspired to write this post by a visit to our neighbour, the City Gallery, and their excellent exhibition This is New Zealand, which is based around how New Zealand artists convey national identity. But this post isn’t just looking art, it’s looking at artists as well. I’m sticking with drawing and painting this time – there may be more entries on this subject. Artists’ lives can be as interesting as the work they produce…of course this isn’t an exhaustive list, but these are some top picks. Think of this selection like a jumping off point: find something you like, and investigate further!

    Book courtesy of SyndeticsLet’s take a look about our fiction first. The guy, the girl, the artist and his ex by Gabrielle Williams is a great look at love, death, human emotion and, of course, art. Then we have Dear Vincent, from New Zealand’s own Mindy Hager. This is a heart-wrenching novel about a young woman who finds comfort – and similarities – in the life and art of Vincent Van Gough. Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older has a more fantastical integration of art into the narrative; in Brooklyn, Sierra Santiago notices that the murals that are a feature of her neighbourhood start to change, revealing a strange and dangerous new world. Finally, we have another testament to the saving power of art; Draw the line, which is written and illustrated by Laurent Linn, deals with a young artist who uses his obsession with superheroes to work through a hate crime that happens in his small town.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThen there’s our non-fiction collection. For the sake of brevity, we’ll leave graphic novels aside. For a look at the creative process of one of my favourite artists, Shaun Tan, pick up The bird king : an artist’s notebook. One of my other favourites is Subway Art, which is huge, so bring your bag if you want to take it out!

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMoving on to the adult collection now: there’s certainly not shortage of amazing books here. Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring deals not only with art, but the artist, his model and the historical and social context in which this famous painting was created. An artist of the floating world by Kazuo Ishiguro deals with similar themes, but also asks harder questions of complicity and integrity – not just artistic, but personal. Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood focuses on the female artist and her own past feeds into her development.
    Finally, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt examines the theft of a famous painting by a teenager and the impact it has on his life. Like I keep saying, this is by no means an exhaustive list. If you’re looking for a more thorough booklist, here are some: female artists from Electric Literature, a top ten list from the Guardian and this utterly insane (667 books) list on Goodreads.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAnd now, on to the non-fiction section. Try to pick a selection from this would be an act of madness, so here’s a few (and I mean A FEW) call numbers for you to investigate:
    1) 704.03994 : Maori art and artists
    2) 709.45 : Renaissance Art
    4) 751.73 : Graffiti
    5) 741.5 : Comic book art (I couldn’t resist, after all!)

    If you’re looking for some great documentaries and movies, we have some of those as well!

    I recommend:

    1) Jean-Michel Basquiat: the radiant child (documentary)
    2) Maudie (film)
    3) Exit through the gift shop: a Banksy film (documentary)
    4) Simon Schama’s Power of art (documentary)
    5) Séraphine (film)

    That’s all for now. I think my next one will be on photography! Stay tuned.


  • Classic novels, dystopia, Great Reads, Librarian's Choice, Nicola, You might like

    You might like…dystopias

    04.05.18 | Permalink | Comments Off on 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.


  • Great Reads, Librarian's Choice, Not Library Related, Real Life, Today in History

    International Women’s Day

    08.03.18 | Permalink | Comments Off on International Women’s Day

    Happy International Women’s Day! Here’s a few must-reads (in no particular order) from our YA collection.

    1) Rejected princesses : tales of history’s boldest heroines, hellions, and heretics, Jason Porath.

    2) Being Jazz : my life as a (transgender) teen, Jazz Jennings.

    3)Here we are : feminism for the real world, edited by Kelly Jensen.

    4)Fight like a girl : 50 feminists who changed the world, by Laura Barcella and with illustrations by Summer Pierre.


  • Art, Blogging, Fantasy, Great Reads, Grimm, Horror, Librarian's Choice, Nicola, Non-fiction, You might like

    You might like….fairy tale edition and first in a series!

    06.03.18 | Permalink | Comments Off on You might like….fairy tale edition and first in a series!

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHere is a new feature on the blog! In this series of posts, I will examine various new releases and Librarian’s Choice books and suggest other items in our collection that are related – whether as inspiration or as first examples in the genre. This week, something that’s close to my heart and very popular in YA fiction at the moment: fairy tales.

    Holly Black is one of the best YA authors writing today and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of her books and am especially keen to read her latest book (the first in a series, yay!) called The Cruel Prince. Like many of her other books, it deals with the fae. This time a young woman must navigate the capricious and cruel fae court – politics and fairy tales, excellent!

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert is another book I’m really interested in; it’s currently ninth on the New York Times’ YA bestseller list and had a glowing review in the Guardian. It’s rather more controversial on Goodreads, but that just makes me all the more eager to give it a look. It tells the story of Alice, who lives with her mother is chased by constant bad luck; they make their way to Alice’s Grandmother’s (an author of a cult collection of fairy takes) house, in the Hazel Wood of the book’s title.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsShaun Tan’s The Singing Bones is my go-to recommendation for anyone looking to start investigating the “original” Grimm Brothers’ fairytales. It’s a deceptively simple collection featuring a fragment of text from the original Grimm brother’s story and then an image depicting a central moment within that narrative. If you want to read the original stories, we also have the uncensored translation. We also have books about fairy tales and their significance. My favourite and one of the most well known authors on this subject is Jack Zipes: start with Fairy tales and the art of subversion. If you’re more visually inclined, check out Fairy tale fashion by Colleen Hill.

    I’ve hope you pick some of these books up – they’re all wonderful and weird, just like faerie/fairy tales themselves.


  • Classic novels, Comedy, dystopia, Fantasy, Great Reads, Mysteries, realistic fiction, Top 10, Top Ten, Troubled teens trying to put their past behind them

    Our ten most popular YA books for September

    29.09.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on 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


  • Art, Books, Comedy, dystopia, Fantasy, Great Reads, New, Nicola

    New books

    28.06.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsUnder Rose-tainted skies, Louise Gornall

    Norah has agoraphobia and OCD. When groceries are left on the porch, she can’t step out to get them. Struggling to snag the bags with a stick, she meets Luke. He’s sweet and funny, and he just caught her fishing for groceries. Because of course he did. Norah can’t leave the house, but can she let someone in? As their friendship grows deeper, Norah realizes Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can lie on the front lawn and look up at the stars. One who isn’t so screwed up. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: I’m going to kill the damn blackbird sitting on my windowsill, chirping and squeaking at the top of its lungs. It hops back and forth, wings spread and flapping, but has zero intention of taking off.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe careful undressing of love, Corey Ann Haydu

    The girls of Devonairre Street in Brooklyn, who have always been told that they are cursed to cause the deaths of anyone who falls in love with them, do not regard the curse as real until the sudden, violent death of a boy they all loved. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: When the Minute of Silence hits, I have a glass vase in my hands and I almost drop it. We have been doing it for years, at 10:11 every Tuesday morning, but it takes me by surprise sometimes, still.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAnd we’re off, Dana Schwartz

    Seventeen-year-old Nora Holmes is an artist, a painter from the moment she could hold a brush. She inherited the skill from her grandfather, Robert, who’s always nurtured Nora’s talent and encouraged her to follow her passion. Still, Nora is shocked and elated when Robert offers her a gift: an all-expenses-paid summer trip to Europe to immerse herself in the craft and to study history’s most famous artists. The only catch? Nora has to create an original piece of artwork at every stop and send it back to her grandfather. It’s a no-brainer: Nora is in! Unfortunately, Nora’s mother, Alice, is less than thrilled about the trip. She worries about what the future holds for her young, idealistic daughter and her opinions haven’t gone unnoticed. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Stop it, Nora. You have more self control than this. My fingers twitch on the keyboard, but my eyes don’t move from the screen. It’s not even that Nick’s Facebook profile is that interesting. It’s just…he changed his profile picture.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsRoyce Rolls, Margaret Stohl

    After five seasons on her family’s reality show, Rolling with the Royces, and a lifetime of dealing with her narcissistic sister, Porsche, media-obsessed mother, Mercedes, and somewhat clueless brother, Maybach, Bentley wants out. Luckily for her cancellation is looming and freedom is nigh. With their lifestyle on the brink, however, Bentley’s family starts to crumble, and one thing becomes startlingly clear– without the show, there is no family. And since Bentley loves her family, she has to do the unthinkable– save the show. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: On May 4, 2016, in the early hours of the morning on one of the better streets of the Huntington Palisades, Talullah Kyong-Grunsburg (thirteen-year-old daughter of Lifespan Network president and chronic insomniac Jeff Grunburg) saw the news on her tumblr feed @AllHailMemeOverlord.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGenius: the game, Leopoldo Gout

    Three underprivileged young prodigies from across the world with incredible skills in technology and engineering team up to become the heroes the world never knew they could be. As 200 geniuses from around the world go head to head in a competition hand-devised by India’s youngest CEO and visionary, the stakes are higher than anyone can imagine. Like life and death. Welcome to the revolution… and get ready to run. (Publisher information)

    First lines: Albert Einstein said, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” He’s right. The people I know, they always led with their creativity. And they don’t let age stop them, either.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFour weeks, five people, Jennifer Yu

    Obsessive-compulsive teen Clarissa wants to get better, if only so her mother will stop asking her if she’s okay. Andrew wants to overcome his eating disorder so he can get back to his band and their dreams of becoming famous. Film aficionado Ben would rather live in the movies than in reality. Gorgeous and overly confident Mason thinks everyone is an idiot. And Stella just doesn’t want to be back for her second summer of wilderness therapy. As the five teens get to know one another and work to overcome the various disorders that have affected their lives, they find themselves forming bonds they never thought they would, discovering new truths about themselves and actually looking forward to the future. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: A few word of advice for those attending Camp Ugunduzi for the first time: Contrary to what the brochure may have told your parents, siblings, grandparents, estranged uncles, teachers, psychiatrists, well-meaning friends, not-so-well meaning friends, and distant relations who “care about you” and therefore shipped you to the middle of upstate New York (read: out of their lives) for one month of summer while everyone else goes kayaking and eats hot dogs, you will probably not discover a way to change your life at this camp.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsUnplugged, Donna Freitas

    In the App World, Skye is a sixteen-year-old virtual girl without any glamorous downloads or fancy effects. She joined the App World for the promise of a better, virtual life, but she’s looking forward to her seventeenth birthday, when she gets to unplug, see her mother and sister again, and decide which world she belongs in once and for all. Without warning, the border between worlds suddenly closes. Skye is trapped, and her only chance to unplug and see her family again is to find and help Rain Holt, the son of the most powerful leader in App World, who was also left behind when the border closed. But when Skye unplugs, she discovers that the reasons for the border closing are much bigger than anyone in the App World knows, and that she somehow has a part to play–a part that will turn friends into traitors and strangers into followers. And the only person she can trust–in either world–is herself. (Publisher summary).

    First lines: I’ll never forget the day the news rang through the App World. It was early June and I was just a virtual girl looking forward to unplugging on her seventeenth birthday.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGrace and the fever, Zan Romanoff

    Still obsessed with the boy band Fever Dream long after her friends lose interest, Grace unexpectedly meets band member Jes and embarks on an unlikely romance that leads her to confront complex truths about herself and the realities of stardom. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: Heyyy girl u up?
    That chatbox window blinks from gray to blue, pulsing like a heartbeat. Grace taps her fingertips against the keyboard, listening to the tiny sounds they make, like raindrops hitting glass, plink plink plink.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBreak me like a promise, Tiffany Schmidt

    When new legislation threatens to destroy her family’s operations in the black-market organ trade, Maggie finds herself falling in love with Alex, a computer whiz who makes a shocking revelation. (Publisher summary)

    First lines: A long, long time ago, back when I had hair as long and shiny as any of the fairy-tale princesses Mama was always shoving down my throat, I made a promise to run away with the boy I’d chosen to be my prince.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe end of fun, Sean McGinty

    Seventeen-year-old Aaron is hooked on FUN, a new augmented reality experience that is as addictive as it is FUN. But when he sets off on a treasure hunt, left by his late grandfather, Aaron must navigate the real world and discover what it means to connect–after the game is over. (Publisher information.)

    First lines: Dear To Whom It May Concern or Whatever. This is Aaron O’Faolain and I’ve got some Issues. The directions say I’m supposed to briefly discuss reasons for the Application for Termination of Fun.


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

    From the stacks

    03.06.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on From the stacks

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

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTree by leaf, Cynthia Voight

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

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

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

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

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

    The pigman, Paul Zindel

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


  • Fantasy, GLBT, Great Reads, Mysteries, Nicola, Troubled teens trying to put their past behind them

    New books

    11.04.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on New books

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWe are okay, Nina LaCour

    Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart. (Goodreads)

    First lines: Before Hannah left, she asked if I was sure I’d be okay. She had already waited an hour past when the doors were closed for winter break, until everyone but the custodians were gone. She had folded a load of laundry, written an email, searched her massive psychology textbooks for answers to the final exam questions to see if she had gotten them right. She had run out of ways to fill time, so when I said “Yes, I’ll be fine,” she had nothing left to do except try to believe me.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe ship beyond time, Heidi Heilig

    The breathtaking sequel to the acclaimed The Girl from Everywhere. Nix has escaped her past, but when the person she loves most is at risk, even the daughter of a time traveler may not be able to outrun her fate—no matter where she goes. Fans of Rae Carson, Alexandra Bracken, and Outlander will fall hard for Heidi Heilig’s sweeping fantasy. Nix has spent her whole life journeying to places both real and imagined aboard her time-traveling father’s ship. And now it’s finally time for her to take the helm. Her father has given up his obsession to save her mother—and possibly erase Nix’s existence—and Nix’s future lies bright before her. Until she learns that she is destined to lose the one she loves. But her relationship with Kash—best friend, thief, charmer extraordinaire—is only just beginning. How can she bear to lose him? How can she bear to become as adrift and alone as her father? (Goodreads)

    First lines: On a warm December day in 1884, the Temptation was leaving Hawaii, as the well as the nineteenth century, and her destination was entirely in my hands. At least, it was in my hands, metaphorically speaking. Although I’d spent the entire morning pouring over the maps in the captain’s extensive collection, I hadn’t yet been able to decide on a time of place for us to visit next.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOur own private universe, Robin Talley

    Fifteen-year-old Aki Simon has a theory. And it’s mostly about sex. No, it isn’t that kind of theory. Aki already knows she’s bisexual—even if, until now, it’s mostly been in the hypothetical sense. Aki has dated only guys so far, and her best friend, Lori, is the only person who knows she likes girls, too. Actually, Aki’s theory is that she’s got only one shot at living an interesting life—and that means she’s got to stop sitting around and thinking so much. It’s time for her to actually do something. Or at least try. So when Aki and Lori set off on a church youth-group trip to a small Mexican town for the summer and Aki meets Christa—slightly older, far more experienced—it seems her theory is prime for the testing. But it’s not going to be easy. For one thing, how exactly do two girls have sex, anyway? And more important, how can you tell if you’re in love? It’s going to be a summer of testing theories—and the result may just be love. (Goodreads)

    First lines: The stars above me danced in the cool, black Mexico sky. So I started dancing, too. My body buzzed with the lingering vibrations from all those hours of flying. The music poured through my headphones and straight into my soul. I twirled, I soared, my head tipped back as I watched the stars. I’d never seen a sky like this one.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDaughter of the pirate king, Tricia Levenseller

    Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship. More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King. (Goodreads)

    First lines: I hate having to dress like a man. The cotton shirt is too loose, the breeches too big, the boots too uncomfortable. My hair is bound on the top of my head, secured in a bun underneath a small sailor’s hat. My sword is strapped tightly to the left side of my waist, a pistol undrawn on my right. The clothing is awkward, as it hangs loose in all the wrong places.

    Silver stars, Michael Grant

    The summer of 1943, World War II. The Germans have been bloodied, but Germany is very far from beaten. The North African campaign was only the beginning of the long journey for Frangie, Rainy, Rio, and the millions of other Allies. Now the American army is moving on to their next target: the Italian island of Sicily. Frangie, Rainy, and Rio now know firsthand what each of them is willing to do to save herself—and the consequences. With their heavy memories of combat, they will find this operation to be even tougher. Frangie, Rainy, and Rio also know what is at stake. The women are not heroes for fighting alongside their brothers—they are soldiers. But the millions of brave females fighting for their country have become a symbol in the fight for equality. In this war, endless blood has been spilled and millions of lives have been lost, but there could be so much more to gain. The women won’t conquer Italy alone. But they will brave terrible conditions in an endless siege; they will fight to find themselves on the front lines of World War II; and they will come face-to-face with the brutality of war until they win or die. (Goodreads)

    First lines: Three great Axis powers: Germany, Italy, and Japan. Italy’s Benito Mussolini began as Hitler’s mentor, but after failure upon failure it has become clear that Mussolini’s Italy lacks the resources and the will to fight effectively. The war on Europe will be fought between the Allies and Germany, with Mussolini more a hindrance than a help.

    Frogkisser, Garth Nix

    Poor Princess Anya. Forced to live with her evil stepmother’s new husband, her evil stepstepfather. Plagued with an unfortunate ability to break curses with a magic-assisted kiss. And forced to go on the run when her stepstepfather decides to make the kingdom entirely his own. Aided by a loyal talking dog, a boy thief trapped in the body of a newt, and some extraordinarily mischievous wizards, Anya sets off on a Quest that, if she plays it right, will ultimately free her land—and teach her a thing or two about the use of power, the effectiveness of a well-placed pucker, and the finding of friends in places both high and low. (Goodreads)

    First lines: It was the middle of an ice storm, the wind howling across the frozen moat to hurl hailstones against the walls of the castle and its tightly shuttered windows. But despite wind and hail and the full chill panoply of winter, it was deliciously warm in the Great Hall.


  • Comics, dystopia, Environment, GLBT, Graphic Novels, Great Reads, Horror, Nicola, Sci Fi

    Summer reading: Best stories about survival

    08.12.16 | Permalink | Comments Off on Summer reading: Best stories about survival

    Whether in the face of the elements, climate change, mysterious conspiracies or zombies…here are my top picks for books about surviving (or not) against the odds. These aren’t easy reads, but they’re testament to the human spirit in challenging and overcoming.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHatchet, Gary Paulsen

    This is a classic and for good reason. After a plane crash, Brian finds himself alone with only the titular hatchet to help him survive in the middle of the wilderness. I haven’t read it for a while and I really appreciated it on the re-read. There are few other characters that appear but the majority of the book is Brian vs. nature. “One flip of the coin”, Brian thinks at one point, is all that stands between him and disaster. My heart was in my mouth until the very end.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsNot a drop to drink, Mindy McGinnis

    “Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water.” Lynn is lucky; she lives by a pond in a world where there is little water. She will defend it, even if it means killing to do so. But a stranger comes Lynn has to make some hard decisions about what to do about her water. Often these survival novels deal with people who are lacking something – this is one of the few that deals with the choices an individual has to make when they have control of the resources; when it’s not a question of your survival, but other people’s.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA drop of night, Stefan Bachmann

    Anouk is contacted by a mysterious corporation, asking her to apply for a spot on a team of “talented young people” to explore an archaeological site, unlike any other. This one is an underground palace dating from the French Revolution somewhere near Paris. Of course, not everything is what it seems. I really enjoyed this book; it’s an intriguing premise and the book’s pace doesn’t let up.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe girl who owned a city, by O.T. Nelson ; adapted by Dan Jolley ; illustrated by Joëlle Jones

    This is one of my favourite graphic novels ever. A plague has killed off everyone over the age of 12, leaving the children in a world where their main threat is each other. Is it survival of the fittest or is there an option to create a better world?

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBleeding earth, Kaitlin Ward

    Lea and her girlfriend Aracely have enough to deal with in their lives, hiding their relationship from Aracely’s father. Then the earth starts bleeding, literally, and their struggle for survival begins. Quite apart from the representation of GLBTQ characters in genre fiction (which is great!), this a heartrending story of realising what the people you love are capable of when their lives are on the line.


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