Transgender Day of Visibility 2024

This Sunday March 31st we celebrate the International Transgender Day of Visibility.  A day in which we celebrate the lives and stories of transgender people, their contributions to society and highlight the discrimination faced by trans people worldwide.  Here are a selection of books by and about transgender people from all over the world.

Black boy out of time : a memoir / Ziyad, Hari
“One of nineteen children in a blended family, Hari Ziyad was raised by a Hindu Hare Krishna mother and a Muslim father. Through reframing their own coming-of-age story, Ziyad takes readers on a powerful journey of growing up queer and Black in Cleveland, Ohio, and of navigating the equally complex path toward finding their true self in New York City. Exploring childhood, gender, race, and the trust that is built, broken, and repaired through generations, Ziyad investigates what it means to live beyond the limited narratives Black children are given and challenges the irreconcilable binaries that restrict them. Heartwarming and heart-wrenching, radical and reflective, Hari Ziyad’s vital memoir is for the outcast, the unheard, the unborn, and the dead. It offers us a new way to think about survival and the necessary disruption of social norms.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Detransition, baby : a novel / Peters, Torrey
“Reese had what previous generations of trans women could only dream of; the only thing missing was a child. Then her girlfriend, Amy, detransitioned and became Ames, and everything fell apart. Ames thought detransitioning to live as a man would make life easier, but that decision cost him his relationship with Reese, and losing her meant losing his only family. Then Ames’s boss and lover, Katrina, reveals that she is pregnant with his baby– and is not sure whether she wants to keep it. Ames wonders: Could the three of them form some kind of unconventional family, and raise the baby together?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available in eBook format

Our work is everywhere : an illustrated oral history of queer & trans resistance / Rose, Syan
“Over the past ten years, we have witnessed the rise of queer and trans communities that have defied and challenged those who have historically opposed them. Through bold, symbolic imagery and surrealist, overlapping landscapes, queer illustrator and curator Syan Rose shines a light on the faces and voices of these diverse, amorphous, messy, real, and imagined queer and trans communities. The many themes include Black femme mental health, Pacific Islander authorship, fat queer performance art, disability and health care practice, sex worker activism, and much more.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available in eBook format

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What’s hot, what’s not: Summer Reading Adventure reviews

Summer Reading Adventure - 1 December 2023 to 30 January 2024

Full information - Summer Reading Adventure 23/24

Have you ever harboured secret dreams about being a world-famous New York Times literary critic?

Or read a book that you simply must share with the world?

Or, conversely, want to spread the word about a tome that simply just wasn’t up to scratch?

One of the most popular activities in our Summer Reading Adventure, both with children and adults alike, are the reviews.

We’ve received over ten thousand reviews to date as part of this year’s Summer Reading Adventure. These range from twelve words or so long (short and sweet!), to pages in length; can be funny or serious or right on the money — it’s really up to you! (But please no straight copies of book cover reviews as we have to reject these.)

And whilst the prestige of a review well-written is reward enough, we also have some spot prizes to give out!

So, if being an ace book reviewer appeals to you, find details below about getting started with Summer Reading at the link below, and send us your reviews!

Summer Reading Adventure – All the info

To whet your appetite, below are just a few of the thousands of reviews we’ve already received. Have a read, and send us your reviews! Remember, it’s not just physical books — don’t forget to log your eBooks or audiobooks and help us reach our 20,000 collective target!

Night tribe / Butler, Peter
“YA fiction is not normally my thing, but I was compelled to check it out after hearing Kim Hill interview the author. The tag line is “Deep in a cave off the Heaphy Track an epic adventure unfolds” and the Heaphy Track and environs featured large in my childhood. The premise is that two rangitahi – Millie and Toby – become lost after setting out to find help when their mother breaks her leg in a side track on the Heaphy. They are then “rescued” by a group of people call themselves Night tribe, who dwell within the cave network that riddles the limestone country beneath the North-west Nelson region, yet remain hidden from the outside world. The tribe are supposedly the descendants a bunch of convicts escaped from Botany Bay and eventually shipwrecked on the remote coast above the Heaphy river after a skirmish with local iwi 200 years ago. Throughout the story line blends factual events with imaginary ones, the author having worked on the Heaphy and still lives in the Golden Bay region. His knowledge of the region shines through the work. His previous works were non fiction and this is his first YA book. While it wasn’t my thing overall, I feel it would appeal to its intended audience, and its great to see a New Zealand themed adventure story come to the YA market.” (Review by Linda)

One Piece Omnibus 67-68-69 : New World / Oda, Eiichirō
“Another fantastic volume, thank you Oda sensei. I particularly enjoyed the part just after Luffy ate a dragon, when that decapitated chauvinist Samurai kept scaring all those giant children held captive on the 50/50 punk island with his Marlin from Nemo “have you seen my son!?” schtick. Nice also to see Captain Smoker back in the fray, that guy’s so cool. Smoking TWO cigars at the same time? Inspired.” (Review by Ethan)

Everyone in my family has killed someone / Stevenson, Benjamin
“A fun whodunit with quirky characters, a humorous narrator, relatable family drama (without any murder thus far in my family ), all while maintaining a sense of danger. My favorite book that I’ve read in the last 6 weeks. I’ll look out for new books from the author.” (Review by Tali )

Bowerbird blues / Parker, Aura
“OH MY GOODNESS! What a stunning book with the sweetest story. The artwork is breath-taking and deeply soothing in shades of blue, and the story is delicious poetry. This would be a lovely book to read aloud to little ones, have them read to you or to just enjoy on ones own, no matter the age. The depictions of Sydney are particularly wonderful.” (Review by Kath)

Beowulf : a verse translation
“This version of the greatest Old English epic poem to be preserved in the Nowell Codex is a simple presentation of the original text with heavy glossing on facing pages. If you want to understand the origins of epic fantasy in English literature, this is the place to start. Much has been made of the difficulty of reading and translating Beowulf, so if you are totally unfamiliar with the story or the language, I might suggest starting with the Seamus Heaney translation, or the great recent graphic novel adaptation by Santiago Garcia and David Rubin. But if you’re keen to jump into the original text, this is as good a place as any to do so. But look, I won’t lie to you. The story is as basic as they come (spoilers ahead). There’s this dude called Beowulf, he’s a big ol’ guy with big ol’ muscles, and he kills a big ol’ monster called Grendel for the crime of eating 30 Danish party-goers… every day for like 20 years (you would think the Danes might have called in the cavalry a little earlier but I guess they didn’t want to look like lil nerds who couldn’t even take down one monster). Then he kills another big ol’ monster who happens to be Grendel’s mum. Then he gets to sit around being king for a while before he has to kill — you guessed it — a third big ol’ monster. Except this one is a dragon and it sets him on fire and bites a hole in his neck, thus ending Beowulf’s story (though being the badass he is, being on fire and bleeding out doesn’t prevent him from killing the dragon anyway — his last words are basically “at least show me the sick loot I got for beating this boss” before dramatically dying all over his new pile of gold-plated dinnerware). So if you like monsters, magic, epic journeys and lots of blood and gore, Beowulf is the story for you! It’s basically LOTR (or like the second half of The Hobbit) but without all the filler. It’s not all doom and gloom though — the sċop (bard) who wrote the original version of the poem down devotes a weird amount of time to dunking on this loser Unferth who keeps trying and failing to talk down to our buddy Beowulf. Not cool, Unferth — in Beowulf’s words, “in helle sċealt werhðo drēogan, þēah þīn wit duge” (basically, “go to hell you big nerd.”) Classy!” (Review by Stephen)

VERB: Behrouz Boochani’s Book Club Reads

Today VERB Wellington hosted ‘Behrouz’s Book Club’, where a fascinating array of recommended books from authors and panelists Behrouz Boochani, Sasha Francis and Abdul Samad Haidari were discussed. The authors chose these works around the themes of reading adventurously, and the importance of a diverse field of voices.

We’ve compiled the discussed titles for your next library reading list, available in a range of eBook, eAudiobook and print formats! 

Behrouz Boochani’s Reads:

The yield / Winch, Tara June (Print copy)
Also available as eBook & eAudiobook
“After a decade in Europe August Gondiwindi returns to Australia for the funeral of her much-loved grandfather at Prosperous House, her only real home and also a place of great grief and devastation. The Yield carefully and delicately wrestles with questions of environmental degradation, pre-white contact agriculture, theft of language and culture, water, religion and consumption within the realm of a family mourning the death of a beloved man.” (Adapted from Catalogue).

Overdrive cover Then the Fish Swallowed Him, Amir Ahmadi Arian (eBook)

“Critically-acclaimed Iranian author Amir Ahmadi Arian makes his American debut with this powerful and harrowing psychological portrait of modern Iran. An unprecedented and urgent work of fiction that exposes the oppressive and corrosive power of the state to bend individual lives. Gripping, startling, and masterfully told, Then the Fish Swallowed Him is a haunting story of life under despotism.” (Adapted from Overdrive)

Still Alive : Notes from Australia’s Immigration Detention System / Ahmed, Safdar (Print copy)
“In early 2011, Safdar Ahmed visited Sydney’s Villawood Immigration Detention Centre for the first time. He brought pencils and sketchbooks into the centre and started drawing with the people detained there. Their stories are told in this book. Interweaving journalism, history and autobiography, Still Alive is an intensely personal indictment of Australia’s refugee detention policies and procedures.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

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Halloween – The Night of the Witch

Halloween is coming up next week and that means it’s time to get witchy! If you love a good witch story, you’re in luck because they’re a hot subject matter in fiction at the moment.  Here’s a mixed selection that can satisfy every witchy need, from romantic to spooky to downright terrifying.

The witching tide / Meyer, Margaret
“East Anglia, 1645. Martha Hallybread, a midwife, healer, and servant, has lived peacefully for more than four decades in her beloved coastal village of Cleftwater. Rendered voiceless as a child, Martha has not spoken a word in years. One autumn morning, a sinister newcomer appears. The witchfinder, Silas Makepeace, has been blazing a trail of destruction along the coast, and now has Cleftwater in his sights. Set over the course of just a few weeks that forever change the people of this village, The Witching Tide offers powerful and psychologically astute insights about the exigencies of friendship and the nature of loyalty, and heralds the arrival of a striking new voice in fiction.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The book of witches
“With a breathtaking array of original stories from around the world, P. Djèlí Clark, Amal El Mohtar, Garth Nix, Darcie Little Badger, Sheree Renée Thomas, and two dozen other fantasy and science fiction geniuses bring a new and exciting twist to one of the most beloved figures in fiction, witches, in never-before-seen works written exclusively for The Book of Witches, compiled by award-winning editor Jonathan Strahan and illustrated by award-nominated artist Alyssa Winans.” (Catalogue)

After the forest / Woods, Kell
“Ginger. Honey. Cinnamon. Flour. Twenty years after the witch in the gingerbread house, Greta and Hans are struggling to get by. Greta has a secret, though: the witch’s grimoire, secreted away and whispering in Greta’s ear for the past two decades, and the recipe inside that makes the best gingerbread you’ve ever tasted.  But in a village full of superstition, Greta and her mysteriously addictive gingerbread, not to mention the rumors about her childhood misadventures, is a source of gossip and suspicion. And now, dark magic is returning to the woods and Greta’s magic-magic she is still trying to understand-may be the only thing that can save her. If it doesn’t kill her first..” (Adapted from Catalogue)

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Magic worlds for grown ups: Exploring magic fiction

How many of you read a certain wizarding world series in your youth, and have always longed to capture that feeling of being immersed in a world of magic again?  Never fear, there are plenty of amazing books and series available in adult fiction that weave magical worlds around the reader.  We have selected a handful of titles for you to try…

A deadly education : a novel / Novik, Naomi
“Enter a school of magic unlike any you have ever encountered: There are no teachers, no holidays, and no friendships save strategic ones. Survival is more important than any letter grade, for the school won’t allow its students to leave until they graduate . . . or die. The rules are deceptively simple: Don’t walk the halls alone. And beware of the monsters who lurk everywhere. El is uniquely prepared for the school’s dangers. She may be without allies, but she possesses a dark power strong enough to level mountains and wipe out untold millions.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The house in the Cerulean Sea / Klune, TJ
“A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret. Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages. An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place–and realizing that family is yours.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Plain bad heroines / Danforth, Emily M
“In 1902, at an all girl’s boarding school in Rhode Island, students Flo and Clara are madly in love with each other, as well as completely obsessed with The Story of Mary MacLane, the scandalous debut memoir by 19 year old MacLane. A copy of this book is found splayed in the woods near the two girls’ dead bodies after a horrific yellow jacket attack. Within five years The Brookhants School for Girls is closed. Its buildings left empty. But not before three more people died on the property, each in a troubling way…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Magic for liars / Gailey, Sarah
“Ivy Gamble is perfectly happy with her life: her almost-sustainable career as a private investigator, an empty apartment in the rapidly gentrifying Bay Area, and a slight drinking problem. She doesn’t in any way wish she was like her estranged twin sister, magically gifted professor Tabitha. But when she’s hired to investigate the gruesome murder of a faculty member at Osthorne Academy for Young Mages, Ivy begins to call into question everything she has ever believed.” (Catalogue)

Ninth house / Bardugo, Leigh
“Galaxy ‘Alex’ Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The starless sea / Morgenstern, Erin
“Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a mysterious book hidden in the stacks. As he turns the pages, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and nameless acolytes, he reads something strange: a story from his own childhood. Bewildered by this inexplicable book and desperate to make sense of how his own life came to be recorded, Zachary uncovers a series of clues–a bee, a key, and a sword — that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to an ancient library, hidden far below the surface of the earth. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Senlin ascends / Bancroft, Josiah
“The Tower of Babel is the greatest marvel in the world. Immense as a mountain, the ancient Tower holds unnumbered ringdoms, warring and peaceful, stacked one on the other like the layers of a cake. It is a world of geniuses and tyrants, of airships and steam engines, of unusual animals and mysterious machines. Soon after arriving for his honeymoon at the Tower, the mild-mannered headmaster of a small village school, Thomas Senlin, gets separated from his wife, Marya, in the overwhelming swarm of tourists, residents, and miscreants.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A secret history of witches / Morgan, Louisa
“From early 19th century Brittany to London during the Second World War, five generations of witches fight the battles of their time, deciding how far they are willing to go to protect their family, their heritage, and ultimately, all of our futures. After Grand-mère Ursule gives her life to save her tribe, her magic seems to dies with her. Even so, her family keeps the Old Faith, practicing the spells and rites that have been handed from mother to daughter for generations. Until one day, Ursule’s young granddaughter steps into the circle, and magic flows anew.” (Catalogue)

Borderline / Baker, Mishell
“Millie is a bit of a mess: she’s cynical, disabled, and self-destructive. And she has borderline personality disorder. So she’s a little confused as to why she’s been recruited for a top-secret agency that oversees deals between Hollywood icons and fairy muses. But when her first routine mission takes an unexpected and dangerous turn, Millie finds herself hip-deep in some of the scariest situations Fairyland has on offer – and she may not make it out in one piece…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The final empire / Sanderson, Brandon
“A thousand years ago evil came to the land and has ruled with an iron hand ever since. The sun shines fitfully under clouds of ash that float down endlessly from the constant eruption of volcanoes. A dark lord rules through the aristocratic families and ordinary folk are condemned to lives in servitude, sold as goods, labouring in the ash fields. But now a troublemaker has arrived and there is rumour of revolt. A revolt that depends on criminal that no-one can trust and a young girl who must master Allomancy – the magic that lies in all metals.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Monstress. Volume one, Awakening / Liu, Marjorie M
“Set in an alternate world of art deco beauty and steampunk horror, Monstress tells the epic story of Maika Halfwolf, a teenage survivor of a cataclysmic war between humans and their hated enemies, the Arcanics. In the face of oppression and terrible danger, Maika is both hunter and hunted, searching for answers about her mysterious past as those who seek to use her remain just one step behind… and all the while, the monster within begins to awaken…” (Catalogue)