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Great Reads




  • eBooks, Events, Fashion, Great Reads, Librarian's Choice, Nicola, Non-fiction

    It’s Fashion Week: books to make you think

    28.08.19 | Permalink | Comments Off on It’s Fashion Week: books to make you think

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsI love fashion and I love fashion week. But with fast fashion causing 10% of carbon emissions (predicted to rise to 25% if nothing changes) according to the United Nations Environment Project, now is as good a time as any to think about how the clothes we love affect the world we live in. It’s important to do your own reading, though: this is a contentious issue, where privilege, monetary concerns and environmental matters intersect. This is just what Wellington Libraries has; there’s plenty more out there!

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWardrobe crisis : how we went from Sunday best to fast fashion is a good overview – written by a fashion insider- of how the fashion industry encourages consumption, where fast fashion started, and some interesting suggestions on how to change your own fashion habits. I haven’t had the chance to read Fashionopolis: The Price Of Fast Fashion & The Future Of Clothes as it’s a new order but it has got good reviews so it’s a must read on the costs of being on-trend.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsChange is in the air, though. Slow fashion : aesthetics meets ethics showcases new companies and new approaches to making fashion ecologically and socially friendly. If you want to apply these to your own wardrobe, there’s The Conscious Closet : The Revolutionary Guide to Looking Good While Doing Good, another new order, which will focus on personal changes. My own favourite is Craft of Use: post-growth fashion, which has many inspiring stories of clothes that endure.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSecondhand/thrift shopping is another way to maximize your look while being eco (and budget) friendly: Thriftstyle : the ultimate bargain shopper’s guide to smart fashion has some great tips and is a great read.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDIY is becoming more and more popular, so if sewing your own clothes is a bit too intimidating, try mending the ones you have: Mending matters which teaches you how to repair your denim, and Visible mending : artful stitchery to repair and refresh your favorite things are great places to start.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThen you could try altering your clothes: DIY wardrobe makeovers : alter, refresh & refashion your clothes is amazing. I also love Stylish remakes which has some really cool ideas about how to change up what you already have. Then there’s Simple tailoring & alterations, a more technique-heavy book which will instruct you on how to hem and alter.

    If you do want to start making your own clothes, we have so many books to help you get going. Dewey numbers 646 (sewing) and 746 (textile arts, which include knitting and crochet) are good places to get started.


  • Award Shortlist, Deadly decadent courts, dystopia, Fantasy, Great Reads, Hugo Awards, Sci Fi

    Hugo Award Nominees – Young Adult

    04.04.19 | Permalink | Comments Off on Hugo Award Nominees – Young Adult

    Here are all of the Young Adult nominees from the Hugo Awards that we have in our collection (and are accessible) at the moment. It’s an amazing list and I thoroughly recommend checking them out.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Belles, Dhonielle Clayton

    Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orleans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orleans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful. But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite, the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orleans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie, that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision. With the future of Orleans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide: save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles, or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever. (Publisher summary)

    (There’s also a sequel, Everlasting Rose.)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsChildren of blood and bone, Tomi Adeyemi

    Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

    But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy. (Publisher summary)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe cruel prince, Holly Black

    Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King. To win a place at the Court, she must defy him– and in doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. As civil war threatens, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself (Publisher summary)

    Also has a sequel: The wicked king.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDread nation, Justina Ireland

    Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania– derailing the War Between the States and changing the nation forever. Now laws like the Native and Negro Education Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. But it’s not a life Jane wants. When families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy… and the restless dead are the least of her problems. (Publisher summary)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe invasion, Peadar Ó Guilin

    In a world where teenagers are trained for the most horrific 3 minutes of their lives, Nessa and Anto have both survived their Call, but fate has a cruel way of rewarding them. Nessa is branded a traitor as no one believes that someone like her could survive the experience. She’s thrown in prison and eventually sent where all traitors are sent – back to the horrifying Greylands, but this time there’s no way home. Anto is packed off out of the way to join the militia. Ireland is being invaded and the enemy are building their army from the very people defending it. However, Anto can’t get Nessa off his mind, he knows in his heart that she’s innocent and he’ll go to any length to rescue her. (Publisher summary)

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTess of the road, Rachel Hartman (e-audiobook)

    In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons can be whomever they choose. Tess is none of these things. Tess is. . . different. She speaks out of turn, has wild ideas, and can’t seem to keep out of trouble. Then Tess goes too far. What she’s done is so disgraceful, she can’t even allow herself to think of it. Unfortunately, the past cannot be ignored. So Tess’s family decide the only path for her is a nunnery.

    But on the day she is to join the nuns, Tess chooses a different path for herself. She cuts her hair, pulls on her boots, and sets out on a journey. She’s not running away, she’s running towards something. What that something is, she doesn’t know. Tess just knows that the open road is a map to somewhere else–a life where she might belong. (Publisher summary)


  • Great Reads, Lists, Nicola, Non-fiction

    Wellington Pride!

    07.03.19 | Permalink | Comments Off on Wellington Pride!

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHooray! Wellington Pride Week starts tomorrow and goes for a full two weeks. We’ve got an amazing selection of Queer YA fiction (check out our awesome display at Central) but I think the Non Fiction needs a bit more love.

    Telling your own, authentic story is a central part of Queer culture. So we’re lucky to have a cool selection of memoirs: Finding Nevo : how I confused everyone by Nevo Zisin describes their own unique journey towards their understanding of their own place in the world. We also have Some assembly required : the not-so-secret life of a transgender teen by Arin Andrews with Joshua Lyon and Being Jazz : my life as a (transgender) teen by Jazz Jennings. A particular favourite is The full spectrum : a new generation of writing about gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and other identities. It’s edited by David Levithan and Billy Merrell, whose names you probably recognise from their own writing.

    There’s also a great collection of “big” names in Queer history, called (appropriately) Queer, there, and everywhere : 23 people who changed the world. I’d also recommend Queer: a graphic history.

    Sometimes everyone needs a little bit of help and we’ve got some books that (hopefully) will help. Queer : the ultimate LGBT guide for teens by Kathy Belge and Marke Bieschke and The Trans teen survival guide by Owl and Fox Fisher are just two.

    Stay safe, be kind, and have a wonderful Pride.


  • adaptations, Classic novels, Fantasy, Great Reads, Nicola

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

    27.02.19 | Permalink | Comments Off on 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.


  • Books, Great Reads, Horror, Movies, Nicola

    Book based on movies, comics, and games…

    31.01.19 | Permalink | Comments Off on Book based on movies, comics, and games…

    Many people talk about how “the book is better” when they talk about adaptations. (I don’t like this argument, by the way – adaptations should stand on their own). But there are plenty of books based on other media – which is an interesting twist on that, I think!

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFive nights at Freddy’s

    FNAF is known for its mysterious lore – not all of these questions are answered in these books, but they do provide some interesting context to the strange restaurant and its grotesque, murderous anamatronics…and scares, of course! We have three in our collection: The Silver eyes, The twisted ones, and The fourth closet.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDC and Marvel tie-ins

    We have so many of these books, it’s impossible to list them all! So I’ll include a few of my favourites. Wonder Woman : Warbringer is pretty great (written by Leigh Bardugo, writer of Six of Crows), and staying in the DC universe, we have Marie Lu’s Batman: Nightwalker. Miles Morales, star of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, has his own tie-in novel, suitably named: Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Finally, Black Widow: Red Vengeance features the deadly assassin from the Avengers films.

    Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAssassin’s Creed

    Worth including here, even though both of the fiction books are both in the general fiction collection: Assassin’s Creed: Underworld and Assassin’s Creed: Unity. We do have a non-fiction book that looks at the history that surrounds the games: Assassin’s Creed : a walk through history (1189-1868) which should be an interesting read.


  • 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 | Comments Off on 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.


  • 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.


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