Podcasts are just the thing for shelving, I find, but I often struggle to find good ones. So I was excited to find four that I really enjoy. Like a lot of my recommendations, they err on the side of the creepy and/or mysterious. All are free and all are available on iTunes. All have quality voice acting and excellent production values.
The Black Tapes
Borrowing Serial’s format, this (fictional) podcast follows Alex Reagan, a reporter investigation Dr. Strand, a mysterious figure who’s offered a million dollars for scientific evidence of the supernatural. The podcast takes its name from a mysterious collection of tapes that contain footage that Dr. Strand has never been able to definitively debunk. What seems a straightforward assignment takes Alex (and the listeners) on a strange journey involving mysterious deaths, sacred geometry and Dr. Strand’s missing wife.
Tanis is made by the same people who make The Black Tapes- both in real life and in universe. Like The Black Tapes, the podcast follows a single journalist, Nic Silver, as he investigates the mysterious concept or place or conspiracy known as Tanis. Nic is searching for a real mystery in the internet age – like Alex, he finds a lot more than he’s looking for. While TBT focuses on the supernatural, Tanis skews more to strange conspiracies. Nic relies on the services of Meerkatnip, a hacker who spends as much time wryly dealing with Nic’s naivety as searching for information on the hidden side of the internet.
Both are in their second season, so there’s a plenty to catch up on.
Limetown’s my pick for the best of the bunch – once again, a journalist seeks to find out the truth, this time behind the mysterious disappearance of over 300 people from a small town in America. Like Tanis and TBT, the journalist gets a lot more than she’s bargained for; the tense atmosphere starts at episode 2 and doesn’t let up until its shocking conclusion. Unfortunately, there’s no sign of a second season, but there may be a TV show in the future and the creators are working on a prequel novel.
Alice isn’t dead
Like the previous three, Alice isn’t dead follows a narrator chasing after a central mystery; what happened to her wife, Alice, whom she had presumed dead. Unlike the others, the narrator isn’t a professional journalist; instead, she’s a long haul truck driver, transporting mundane domestic items across America. The podcast consists of her audio diaries, which she narrates to Alice. Along the way, the narrator encounters many other strange occurances and people, some of which are connected to the central mystery of Alice, others which are not.
As the token graphic novel/comic book geek on the Teen Blog, I was pretty excited to hear about our new service, Comics Plus! We’ve had it for a couple of months, but it’s taken me a while to mention it here (whoops, sorry!). Now you can get all the best new titles to read on your computer or your smartphone – check out the main blog to learn how to link it to the library app.
It has titles from major publishers like Dynamite! and Archie, as well as smaller, indie publishers, which is great if you’re looking for new things to read which we may not have in our ‘dead tree’ collection.
Here are my picks for the top reads:
1) Jenny Finn, written and illustrated by Mike Mignola).
“Finally collected in one volume for the first time! From the mind of Mike Mignola, creator of HELLBOY, comes this Lovecraftian tale of a mysterious girl who arrives in Victorian England with carnage in her wake. Is she evil incarnate or a misled child?” (Goodreads)
2) A ninja named Stan, Mike Whittenberger (writer) and Delia Gable (Art )
“Stan Kidderick, Ninja P.I. is not really a ninja at all. In fact, he’s not even a very good private investigator. He can’t actually use the sword he carries around and he only wears a ninja mask, which he never takes off. He seems quite strange, but he’s just a man who coped with having everything he loved in life taken away from him, by convincing himself he was meant to fight crime as a ninja detective. Yes, he’s lonely, and yes, he’s only hiding from the pain of his former life. But he’s busy working whatever cases he can get using his true calling and talent in life…computers.” (Goodreads).
3) Abyss, Kevin Rubio, Nick Schley, Lucas Marangon
“Eric Hoffman was your average son of a single-parent, eccentric billionaire, until the day he discovered a family secret — his dad is actually the world’s worst super-villain, Abyss! Now Eric tries to redeem his legacy and stop his father’s plot to destroy San Francisco with the help of a killer robot, and the City by the Bay’s greatest heroes, Arrow and Quiver. If only he could convince them he’s on their side…” (Goodreads).
4) Lumberjanes, Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson (writers), Brooke A. Allen and Noelle Stevenson (Art)
“At Miss Qiunzilla Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s camp for hard-core lady-types, things are not what they seem. Three-eyed foxes. Secret caves. Anagrams. Luckily, Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley are five rad, butt-kicking best pals determined to have an awesome summer together… And they’re not gonna let a magical quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way! The mystery keeps getting bigger, and it all begins here. ” (Goodreads).
5)1000 comic books you must read, Tony Isabella
“1000 Comic Books You Must Read is an unforgettable journey through 70 years of comic books. Arranged by decade, this book introduces you to 1000 of the best comic books ever published and the amazing writers and artists who created them.See Superman from his debut as a sarcastic champion of the people, thumbing his nose at authority, to his current standing as a respected citizen of the world. Experience the tragic moment when Peter Parker and a generation of Spider-Man fans learned that “with great power, there must also come great responsibility”
Meet classic characters such as Archie and his Riverdale High friends, Uncle Scrooge McDuck, Little Lulu, Sgt. Rock, the kid cowboys of Boys’ Ranch, and more.
Enjoy gorgeous full-color photos of each comic book, as well as key details including the title, writer, artist, publisher, copyright information, and entertaining commentary.
1000 Comic Books You Must Read is sure to entertain and inform with groundbreaking material about comics being published today as well as classics from the past.” (Goodreads)
Want to be the creator of the next Flappy Bird?
Book your place at our free coding and game making workshops in February. Places are limited, so register quickly! The awesome folk over at Gamefroot will be running the workshops, and will cover topics like programming and coding, game strategy, creating characters and artificial intelligence, and game design and principles.
We know, we know; it sounds great -right?
Friday 26th February
9.30am – 3.30pm
Wellington Central Library, Mezzanine Meeting Room
Register at PublicLibraries.org.nz
Good luck to all senior secondary students currently sitting NCEA exams.
Here are a few links to help you out:
–Subject help can be found on Study It.
–Cliffs Notes is where you’ll find literature guides for those novels you’ve read this year.
–Need a break? Procrastinate here with these awesome links.
You are welcome to study in our libraries. They are warm, dry, have wifi, and you can bring in your coffee and a nibble. The librarians will help you find any info you need.
Ever wanted to create your own website or online game? Book your place at the two FREE coding workshops during the October School Holidays.
Building with jQuery – 1Oct, 9.30am-3.30pm, Wellington Central Library (Mezzanine Meeting Room)
-Confidence with writing HTML and CSS
-Familiarity with copying, renaming and moving files
-A Mac or Windows computer with Internet access
-Admin rights to install new applications
-Excitement about learning jQuery!
Attendees leave the workshop at the end of the day with their work published online as a live website.
This workshop is free, and open to those aged 10-18yrs old (and any teachers that want to learn also!). Places are limited, registrations are essential. Go to gathergather.co.nz for more info and to register
Building with Python – 2Oct, 9.30am – 3.30pm, Wellington Central Library (Mezzanine Meeting Room)
A great option for beginners with little or no prior programming experience, Building with Python offers a broad taster of the language, while providing a solid basis for more advanced programming.
-Familiarity with copying, renaming and moving files
-A Mac or Windows computer with internet access
-Python 3 pre-installed (from Python.org)
-Excitement about learning to code!
Attendees leave the workshop at the end of the day with a simple text-based game of their own creation.
This workshop is free, and open to those aged 13-18yrs old (and any teachers who want to learn also!). Places are limited, registrations are essential. Go to gathergather.co.nz for more info and to register.
Got an idea for a website but don’t know how to develop it? Get along to these two free coding classes during the April school holidays. They’re perfect for beginners and a great way to learn how to code using CSS/HTML, and you’ll get a chance to create your own live website. BYOD.
Places are limited and bookings are required: bookings and info
Sunday 12th April, 9am – 3pm, Central Library: for 12-14 yr olds
Monday 13th April, 9am-3pm, Central Library: for 15-18yr olds
The first trailer for The Legend of Korra Book 4 is out! Check out the trailer below (if you’re up to date with Book 3):
We learned the science behind why old books smell so awesome:
And we talked a bit about the strange things that get returned in library books…
You can follow us over on Tumblr at wellingtoncitylibraries.tumblr.com!
Hei whakanui i Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori 2014, kei te mahi pakiwaitara tuhituhi ā-ipurangi Te Matapihi ki te Ao Nui, ā, ka taea e koe e tō kura rānei ētahi taonga te wini.
Kua oti kē i te kaituhi rongonui haere nei a Paora Tibble te whiti tuatahi te tuhituhi, ā, māu e āpiti atu ō tuhituhi ki te pakiwaitara ia rā, hei te 21-25 o Hūrae.
Ka whiriwhirihia kotahi te whiti ia rā (tae atu ki te 200 kupu), mai i ia reanga, ka mutu hoki ngā pakiwaitara hei te ahiahi o te Paraire te 25 o Hūrae.
Ko ngā Reanga: (Kura) Tau 1-8, me te Tau 9-13
Ko ngā taonga ia rā he pēke whare pukapuka, he kāri koha, he haki pukapuka hoki.
Ko ngā taonga mā ngā toa tuhituhi kotahi iPapa mō ia reanga, ā, he haki e $250 hei hoko pukapuka mō ngā kura o ngā toa tuhituhi.
Ko te kura hoki he tokomaha rawa ana kaituhi ka wini hoki i te haki pukapuka e $250!
Kia whai wāhi koe ki te wini, tūhono mai ā-ipurangi ka tuhituhi mai rā: wcl.govt.nz/mawhaituhi
To celebrate Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori 2014, Wellington City Libraries are weaving an online story, with the chance for you and your school to win some cool prizes.
Well-known author, Paora Tibble, has written the first paragraph but we need you to continue the story each day, from 21-25 July.
A paragraph (up to 200 words) will be selected, daily, from each age group, and the stories will finish on Friday afternoon, 25 July.
Age Groups are: (School) Year 1-8, and Year 9-13
Daily prizes include library bags, concession cards and book vouchers.
The prizes for overall winners include an iPad for each age group winner, plus $250 of book vouchers for the winners’ schools.
The school with the most contributors will also win $250 of book vouchers!
For your chance to win, join us online and weave your story: wcl.govt.nz/mawhaituhi
I’ve been on a really big video game kick lately, especially enjoying some “indie” games including Fez and The Stanley Parable. Which got me thinking, I really love when different media types get all mashed up into one another. Here, specifically, I’m going to highlight some rad books and movies that feature video games in some way.
The End Games, T. Michael Martin
Seventeen-year-old Michael and his little brother Patrick have been battling the monsters in The Game for weeks. Armed with just a rifle between them, the brothers must follow the instructions of the Game Master, which they hope will lead them to a “safe zone”, safe and far away from the terrifying Bellows, the flesh-hungry roaring beasts that roam the land. Michael and Patrick are very good at The Game. They are surviving. But The Game is changing. The Game doesn’t play fair.
This book is so exciting, and it uses well-known video game narrative in a novel format, providing us with a thrilling debut novel from T. Michael Martin. Plus, isn’t this opening quote great?
Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life, Bryan Lee O’Malley
“What are you doing?”
“Getting a life.”
You may have seen the awesome movie Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and this is the first of six graphic novels that spawned the movie. Scott Pilgrim is a bit of a loser, he plays in a band in his friend’s garage and shares a bed with his roommate, because Scott can’t afford a bed. Or rent. But Wallace has that covered. Then, Scott meets the girl of his dreams – literally. Ramona Flowers rollerblades through Scott’s idle daydream and he becomes determined to track her down. But to get to Ramona, Scott must first defeat Ramona’s seven evil exes… Not so easy after all.
Scott Pilgrim is so fun because it mashes up video game tropes into its natural narrative. The battles Scott faces with Ramonas exes play out like video game boss battles, and he even earns coins and powerups when he defeats them. The movie is fairly faithful to the books, so watch that if you want, but then ending is different, and the books delve a lot more into little stories that wouldn’t fit into the film. Both are fantastic!
Level Up, Gene Luen Yang
Dennis Ouyang feels crippled by his parents’ high expectations of him. They want him to focus on school so he can become a gastroenterologist (a doctor of the digestive system). Dennis wants to play video games. But he does what’s expected of him, until his father’s sudden death leads him to an academic burnout and gets him kicked out of college. Things are suddenly not so straightforward as they once were, and things keep getting weirder when four sappy greeting card angels appear and take charge of Dennis’s life…
Video game tropes have a lot of fun imagery associations so a graphic novel format suits the mashup well, I think!
Ready Player One, Ernest Cline
It’s 2044 and the world is a pretty ugly place. Like most of humanity, Wade escapes this grim reality by hooking himself into OASIS, a sprawling virtual reality where you can live and fall in love on any of your choice of ten thousand planets. OASIS holds grim realities of its own though – somewhere in the sprawling virtual world lurks the ultimate lottery ticket, hidden by OASIS creator James Halliday behind a series of perplexing puzzles. The ticket yields immense fortune and power – if you can unlock it. The world is aware only that Halliday’s riddles are based on his love of late-20th-century pop culture, and many spend their days idly researching and debating Halliday’s idols. Then one day, Wade stumbles across the first clue. Suddenly, the whole world is watching and competing with Wade for the ultimate lottery ticket, many willing to kill Wade to get to it. The race is on, and the stakes are high. Ready, Player One?
The living-in-a-virtual-reality trope has been widely used, and perhaps is bearing closer on our reality than we realise? Time will tell!
Eagle Strike, Anthony Horowitz
You may already be aware of Alex Rider, teen MI6 agent, but if not, here’s the lowdown. Alex’s uncle was an agent, he was killed, and Alex was brought onboard with MI6. Each book in the series covers a mission assigned to Alex and in Eagle Strike, the fourth book in the series, Alex discovers a plot by popstar-philanthropist Damian Cray to blow up several countries, supposedly for reasons of (obviously crazed) peace activism. Alex has had MI6 backing him up before, but now he’s on his own. Can he stop Cray’s deadly plan in time?
Although not obviously video game based, Eagle Strike does contain this element – Cray catches Alex eavesdropping on him, so he drops Alex into a real life version of Feathered Serpent, the game Cray had been developing as part of his diabolical plot. Pure evil!
Kenji is good at maths, bad with girls, and spends most of his time in the sprawling online reality of OZ. He lives an insular life until the girl of his dreams hijacks him to be her fake fiance at her family reunion. During the reunion things only get weirder when a cryptic email is received, unleashing a rogue AI in OZ and falsely implicating Kenji in the hacking. Kenji must halt and restore the damage to the virtual infrastructure and stop the rogue AI, named Love Machine, before it causes irreparable damage.
If you know of any other great books or movies that fit into this theme, let us know in the comments!