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Reading, Wellington, and whatever else – teenblog@wcl.govt.nz

Month: November 2008 Page 1 of 3

Top 10: Spooks

GhostThat’s spooks in the ghost sense rather than spies. Ghosts lend themselves to short stories apparently (think Edgar Allan Poe) – maybe their lack of substance means they lack staying power. That being said, ghosts have had an impact on several novels as well, from the ghoulish-minded 19th Century to the ghoulish-minded Neil Gaiman (absolutely no offence meant).

  1. The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman. Still waiting, but I already have opinions (never let the fact that you haven’t read a book stop you); I think they should turn this one into a movie! Since The Jungle Book worked so well as a film there’s no reason why this one wouldn’t (although it’d need a song as awesome as “The Bear Necessities” of course).
  2. book coverThe Ghost’s Child, Sonya Hartnett. An old lady is visited by a ghostly child and (if I remember rightly) serves him tea. What results is the unveiling of the old lady’s story, in particular her relationship with an “unworldly” young man she meets on a beach. Sonya Hartnett has a deft writing style – check her out if you’re interested in poetic writing that’s not overdone.
  3. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte. A personal favourite of old Bella Swan’s. The narrator (not Nelly, the other one) is disturbed late at night by a strange spook clawing at his bedroom window, which is a bit nasty really. It’s Catherine Earnshaw, wailing and winding her way around the Yorkshire Moors. Trying to find Heathcliff no doubt, who, if he had any sense, would have hightailed it to somewhere like the Canary Islands, where he himself could haunt people in a warmer climate (Cathy’s rather high maintenance).
  4. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens. If I was ever going to steel myself and actually read something by Charles Dickens I’d say this would probably be the one. The ghosts in this are here to nag Scrooge into being, well, less Scrooge-like. Is it just me or is Scrooge a less interesting person at the end of the story?
  5. book coverA Certain Slant of Light, Laura Whitcomb. I thought it was well written and plotted, but I think I liked the potential better than the book, really. This is great if you like romance together with your ghosts, plus unexpected nice endings.
  6. The Complete Edgar Allan Poe Tales, (Edgar Allan Poe). Mr Ghost Story. Unfortunately I know nothing about him, for shame. Must have slept through that lecture.
  7. A Foot in the Grave, Joan Aiken. Joan Aiken wrote lots of short stories and short novels with ghosts (in them). Amazon.co.uk has this to say about A Foot in the Grave: “A truly creepy band of ghosts has conjured up in this unusual and compelling collection of tales. In New York, Zia Tisna’s weird dolls keep watch over a pair of young lovers, while out of the River Thames crawls a ghost baby to torment Janet. Cousin Cherry falls victim to Mrs Wildleve’s gale-force powers, and Uncle Avvie returns from the Dismal Swamp with a bag full of something sinister…”
  8. Beloved, Toni Morrison. Toni Morrison has won both the Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prize for literature, so she’s a force to be reckoned with. That said, I don’t particularly click with her style, but that’s okay; you don’t have to like everything that’s good (and you don’t have to dislike everything that’s not good). Beloved is widely regarded as her magnificent piece. The ghost here is that of a murdered child (the setting is post-Civil War), but also perhaps on a broader scale that of slavery in the southern states of America. You may have to use your brain!
  9. The Turn of the Screw, Henry James. Could this be the best ghost story? A complex, multi-layered thing that keeps you guessing and thinking, about two children who are haunted by their governess and her lover (or are they?).
  10. book coverThe Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold. She’s not strictly speaking a ghost, but I thought I’d finish off with this one anyway, as a salute to Peter Jackson’s soon to be completed film. Susie Salmon watches from Heaven (which is much like a playground) while her family and friends deal with the grief of losing her and the knowledge that the trail has gone cold in the investigation of her murder.


Flash 3

It will probably be sunny all weekend, but that’s no reason not to stay indoors and play these great online flash games.

Fold – you’re an ant with the ability to create gravity wells so as to avoid … well, death. It’s a bit tricky to get the hang of it, but not too difficult.
99 Bricks – It’s the opposite of Tetris. Frustrating!
QWOP – I was terrible at this incredibly difficult racing game.
Run – Great fun! And addictive too, in the good way that some games are.
Amorphous Plus – Kill the gloobies with a big sword! (Not as violent as that sounds.) We liked this one – it’s very satisfying.
Physics Invader – Old-school Invader, but with physics!
Wooden Paths – Build wooden bridges across rivers – curiously engaging and relaxing.
Aether – once you’re sorted (it’s quite hard to get off the planet) this game is kind of serene.

See these earlier posts (here and here) for more games!

New books, CDs, and DVDs

There’s not a lot of new material this week, so I’ll bundle it all up into one post. First up; new books!

Fruits Basket #21, by Natsuki Takaya (181 pages) – The Sohma family are each possessed by an animal from the Chinese zodiac, and if they’re hugged by the opposite gender (or get stressed out) they turn into that animal. Fruits Basket is one of the best-selling shōjo manga in the world; ‘shōjo manga’ is manga marketed towards teenage girls.

Kekkaishi #14 (and #15), by Yellow Tanabe (162 pages) – Kekkaishi are demon-hunters who use magic to create barriers in creative and interesting ways. This is shōnen manga, which is manga marketed for boys between 8 and 18.

The Latent Powers of Dylan Fontaine, by April Lurie (211 pages) – Fifteen-year-old Dylan’s life is in shambles; his mother may have run off, his father is never home, his older brother hangs out with his loser band, and he – Dylan – has just been caught shoplifting underwear. Also, his best friend is shooting a documentary about him and she (unfortunately) wants to remain his friend.

Finnikin of the Rock, by Melina Marchette (398 pages) – This is the latest from the author of Looking for Alibrandi, (a very popular book still, fifteen years after its publication). Finnikin of the Rock is a character-driven fantasy novel. ‘A long time ago, in the spring before the five days of the unspeakable, Finnikin of the Rock dreamt he was to sacrifice a pound of flesh to save the royal house of Lumatere.‘ How’s that for a first sentence?

New DVDs!

Jane Eyre (M rated) – A retelling of Charlotte Brontë’s classic novel from the BBC.
Appleseed : Ex Machina (M rated) – This is the sequel to the pretty-good-but-not-as-good-as-the-manga-I-thought film we also have in the YA DVDs. Reviews suggest that the CGI is fantastic, although the story lets the film down. I shall watch it this weekend (and compare it to Final Fantasy : Advent Children, the best CGI film ever).

New CDs!

Now That’s I Call Music 28Various. There are three things in life that we can’t get away from; death, taxes, and Now That’s What I Call Music compilations. This CD has eighteen tracks.
Funhouse – Pink. This is Pink’s fifth album. She may be touring NZ next year.

A Hundred Million Suns

CD CoverHey, if you want to listen to the new Snow Patrol CD (A Hundred Million Suns) before buying/downloading (legitimately) it, then you can reserve it now and listen to your heart’s content. One of the back room elves has just this minute finished its catalogue entry.

Vanity Fair photo shoot for *that* movie

Okay, here’s a link to an entertaining article about the Twilight movie from the December issue of Vanity Fair (we’ve also got the magazine in the library).

Roger Ebert, film reviewer extraordinaire, had this to say about the movie. Note he’s about as far away from a 16 year old girl as a person can get, but I thought his review was a good read (“Why do girls always prefer the distant, aloof, handsome, dangerous dudes instead of cheerful chaps like me?”).

For more photos from the VF photo session session check out the outtakes.

(YouTube clip of shoot)

Databases: Fiction Connection

Wellington City Libraries has access to a whole range of databases (located in mygateway) that don’t get used nearly enough, so we thought we’d highlight some for you so you can have a go. First up I thought I’d find something not too study related: Fiction Connection. This one’s at the top of the Books & Authors list in My Gateway (you need to use your library card number and last name as username and password).

Fiction Connection is a stupidly easy to use tool (it’s also got a quick tour, just in case). You search for an author or book title and get a list, as per your average library database (in fact it uses Aquabrowser, like our Easyfind search), then you can hit the “find similar” button to (as the name suggests) find similar titles. For example, I was told if I enjoyed Nation by Terry Pratchett then I might like to try Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve or Apocalypse by Tim Bowler (which we don’t have, oops) or, or…

You can get fancy and refine your search, for example by location, setting, time frame, topic, or you could just use it like a slightly rigged lucky dip.

You’ll never run out of things to read this summer.

my gateway

Top 10: Movie Books Part 2

Here are ten twelve popular books that are being turned into movies, which you may or may not know about. Let me know if you know of any others.

  1. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, John Boyne. I’m not as excited as other people, but that’s okay. Here’s the trailer (YouTube).
  2. book coverNick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Rachel Cohn & David Levithan. Two teens meet at a punk rock club and fall in love. This is coming out in February next year. Plenty of time to read the book, if you haven’t already (we’re getting more copies and a reliable source has told me that it’s good).
  3. Inkheart, Cornelia Funke. The story of a girl whose father brings book characters to life by reading out loud. Visit YouTube to see the official trailer, and IMDB. It’s supposed to be around in February next year.
  4. book coverCoraline, Neil Gaiman. Some very cool graphics in here (including buttons). You can check out teasers and featurettes on his website.
  5. House of Night, P C Cast. Because vampires are so hot right now they’re turning this series by P C Cast into a movie and riding the wave.
  6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (July 2009). It will have been ages since the last one by that time. Meanwhile, you can amuse yourselves by viewing Robert Pattinson smoulder in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and check for any sparkling skin.
  7. X-Men Origins: Wolverine. More Hugh Jackman.
  8. New Moon, Stephenie Meyer. They say that this is definitely going ahead (2010) because Twilight has opened so well.
  9. book coverFantastic Mr Fox, Roald Dahl. Cool, eh? George Clooney is Mr Fox and Cate Blanchett is Mrs Fox. This should be around at the end of next year.
  10. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak. This is supposed to be coming out in 2010 but it’s quite hard to find some actual information about it (and it’s also quite hard to imagine how they can turn this into a movie!).
  11. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley. They’ve had a couple of goes at this as a TV series. Trivia: apparently the 1980 version was nominated for a couple of primetime Emmys. IMDB tells me I need to have IMDBPro if I want to find out anything about it. Huh!
  12. book coverWonder Woman. Children of the eighties will be particularly excited (she was the coolest thing on TV). An estimated release date for this is 2011.

 So there you go.

See Leonardo’s Gadgets

The Leonardo da Vinci Machines Exhibition is on at the New Zealand Academy of Fine Art until 15 February. A collection of over sixty machines based on his sketches, this exhibition looks pretty cool. The website says that it’s interactive, so you get to pick up some of the models to get a better look (although I suspect you probably don’t get to have a go with his hangglider).

Prices are $10.00 for students and $12.00 for adults (children under 13 get in for $8.00), but from the looks of the photo gallery it’s worth it.

New DVDs (and a new CD)

New CDs and new DVDs – can there be no greater thrill? There are a few blockbuster films included in today’s line-up. And only one CD.

Doll Domination – Pussycat Dolls. Incredibly, this is only their second studio album. This copy comes with a “bonus” CD containing one solo track from each member of the group.

And the DVDs are:

The Simpsons : Around The World in 80 D’ohs
The Simpsons : Treehouse of Horror
(V, VI, VII, and XII)

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of The Crystal Skull
– This is the fourth Indiana Jones film. It was co-written by George Lucas, who reportedly wanted it to have more aliens. 
Drillbit Taylor : Budget Bodyguard – Three kids hire a cheap soldier-of-fortune, played by the very funny Owen Wilson, to take revenge on their two bullies.
Doctor Who : Series 4 Volume 3 – This has three episodes; ‘Silence in the Library’, ‘Forest of the Dead’, and ‘Midnight’.
The Incredible Hulk – This is the 2008 film, which gets a Metacritic score of 61 – as opposed to the 2003 film, which only gets 54.

New Books & their first lines

Inspired by Grimm’s post about first lines (and the follow-up), this week’s New Book post will also include the featured books’ first lines.

Goodbye Jamie Boyd, by Elizabeth Fensham (88 pages) – ‘Before I killed him, my big brother was my best friend.‘ How’s that for an opening sentence? This book is about friendship and mental illness; it is written in poetic verse.

Ten Cents a Dance, by Christine Fletcher (356 pages) – ‘We heard the music even before we got to Union Hall.‘ It is the 1940s in Chicago, and 15-year-old Ruby finds herself swept up in the dodgy world of dance halls, jazz, and the mob.

Getting the Girl : A Guide to Private Investigation, Surveillance, and Cookery, by Susan Juby (341 pages) – ‘I was sitting on the old blue beachers with Dini.’ (A bleacher, interestingly, is what those tiered benches at sport grounds are called in the U.S.) Sherman Mack’s friend Dini is in danger of becoming ‘d-listed’ by someone at their school. Determined to uncover who is responsible, Sherman ‘snatches up his surveillance gear and launches a full-scale investigation’. Part comedy and part mystery.

Blue Sky Freedom, by Gaby Halberstam (272 pages) – ‘It was the first day back after the Christmas holidays; my satchel was so stuffed with books it was creaking.’ This is a story of love, loss and courage set against the backdrop of apartheid-torn South Africa.

Spray, by Harry Egde (279 pages) – ‘Someone was after him already.’ Two-hundred teenagers sign up for an assassination game using water pistols that will last three weeks. Which sounds like a lot of fun, I reckon. This game, however, becomes more than harmless fun for some of the participants.

Infamous : An It Girl Novel, by Cecily von Ziegesar (240 pages) – ‘It was unnaturally quiet in the main reading room in Sawyer Library on the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving.’ This is the seventh book of the It Girl series, an off-shoot from the incredibly popular Gossip Girl series. (Coincidentally, I’m writing this in a library on the Thursday afternoon before Thanksgiving, although it’s not unnaturally quiet.)

The Singing : The Fourth Book of Pellinor, by Alison Croggon (486 pages) – ‘A shepherd was gathering firewood by the old Pellinor Road when a strange sight caught his attention.‘ This is the final book in the series, so if you’ve been reading this epic, ‘post-Tolkien’ book series, you will definitely want to read this. It has quite a few reserves already!

Melting Stones, by Tamora Pierce (312 pages) – ‘”Hey, kid – stop hanging off that rail!” A sailor, one of the women, was yelling at me.’ The newest Circle of Magic fantasy by one of the genre’s top writers.

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