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

Month: August 2009 Page 1 of 3

Top 10 fairies

fairywomanFairies are having a renaissance, (thankfully not just fairies of the Rainbow Magic variety) so it’s really easy to find books and whatnot that feature them. This is not so much a Top 10 as it is a selection.

Some things to note about lots of fairy books in 2009:

  • – It’s faery (or faerie), not fairy. Duh.
  • – Faeries can be dangerous and unpredictable, toying with mere mortals in the same way that Titania and Oberon did (poor Bottom and everyone), and Tinker Bell threatened to do on the odd occasion when she was a bit miffed with Peter and life in general.
  • – Faeries are into monarchies not republics: no voting here. Faery monarchs don’t like each other much. Grim, really.
  • – Not everyone can see faeries; being able to means you’re special, but bad things might happen.
  • – Like vampires, faeries are often immortal (but not for reasons of being undead) and may well have lived a long time, but still find teenage girls fascinating (whether or not they can be seen by them).
  • – “ “, faeries are mysterious hotties; contrary to what the name might suggest, they’re also buff and often intimidating-looking.
  • – Therefore, tangling with faeries may well lead to a supernatural romance.
  • – A cool male best friend may feature, but will need to be super tough to survive the faerie onslaught. He probably deserves better.
  1. I Was a Teenage Fairy, Francesca Lia Block – Fairies get the FLB treatment: Mab features (as in Queen Mab, as in from, for example, Romeo and Juliet).
  2. Wicked Lovely, Melissa Marr – I reviewed this and her other two here (which reminded me that I hadn’t done a fairy list, plus the subject is in keeping with my name, see).
  3. How to Ditch your Fairy, Justine Larbalestier. Having your own personal fairy seems like a nice idea. I think I’d like a work fairy, as in a fairy that works so that I don’t have to. These fairies seem to be a bit more of the godmother or Tinker Bell variety.
  4. The 13 Treasures, Michelle Harrison. An old photograph, the mysterious disappearance of a girl, fairies, a disturbing intruder, terrible dangers…
  5. Wings, Aprilynne Pike – Laurel finds she has a “blossom” growing on her back, which leads to the discovery that she’s a faerie, among other things.
  6. Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception, Maggie Stiefvater. Deirdre is not only a gifted musician, she’s also been lumped with the gift of seeing faeries, which means she becomes entangled in a faerie war that is as old as the hills.
  7. Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale, Holly Black. This is the first of a few modern faery tales by Holly Black, who also co-wrote the Spiderwick Chronicles books with Tony DiTerlizzi. Here again (although Holly Black got in first, it must be said, being a bit of a YA faerie trailblazer) a teenage girl unwittingly finds herself mixed up in a power struggle between faerie kingdoms.
  8. The Princess, The Crone, and The Dung-cart Knight, Gerald Morris. The sixth of Gerald Morris’s Arthurian stories, in which Sarah searches for the knight who is responsible for killing her parents. Along the way she meets and befriends a faery. Having said that, reviewers describe this as the grimmest of the stories.
  9. Peter Pan, J M Barrie – Tinker Bell is noteworthy for many things, including her lack of dialogue and her jealousy of Peter’s attention towards Wendy.
  10. A Midsummer Night’s Dream (DVD) – this play rescued Shakespeare for me; it’s fab. We’ve got a couple of interpretations of it for your viewing pleasure: the one with Rupert Everett as Oberon and Calista Flockhart as Helena, and a “retold” version set in a holiday park.

New books

At long last – the latest, newest books. In no particular order.

Stargazer, by Claudia Gray (329 pages) – This is a sequel to Evernight. Bianca’s parents are vampires, and she’s destined to become one (they’re glam vampires, rather than the scarier, cadaverous vampires, probably). But she falls in love with a vampire hunter, which throws a spanner in the works.

First line: ‘Frost began to creep up the walls.

Twenty Boy Summer, by Sarah Ockler (290 pages) – Sixteen-year-olds Anna and Frankie go to California for a holiday. They conspire to find a boy for Anna’s first kiss, but Anna has a secret – she’s already had a boyfriend, and it was with Frankie’s brother Matt who died tragically a year ago. Quite sad.

First line: ‘Frankie Perino and I were lucky that day.

Faketastic : A Frenemies Novel, by Alexa Young (244 pages) – Halley, Avalon, and Sofee (!) are all friends. Then enemies! Then friends! This is the second Frenemies book, and it looks like there will be more.

First line: ‘“Isn’t it amazing?” Avalon Greene breezed up behind Halley Brandon and gave her best friend’s shoulder an affectionate squeeze.

The Warriors of Ethandun, by N. M. Browne (371 pages) – the third and final book in The Warriors Trilogy. Unfortunately, we don’t have the second book, but we do have the first. Two time-travellers return from King Arthur’s era to the present, but are unable to fit back in. So back they go! This time they’re up against Vikings and something more …

First line: ‘Dan stepped out of the Veil of mist.

Bridge of Tears : Usagi Yojimbo vol. 23, by Stan Sakai (246 pages) – This is the latest Usagi Yojimbo collection. It’s a graphic novel, and the series is outstanding, even if you don’t usually like comics. I promise.

Zelah Green, Queen of Clean, by Vanessa Curtis (245 pages) – Zelah Green has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and is always, always on the watch out for dirt and germs. Her stepmother sends her to a camp to try to help her, and there Zelah meets Sol, who is gooorgeous. He doesn’t speak however.

First line: ‘My name is Zelah Green and I’m a Cleanaholic.

After Dark : A Vamps Novel, by Nancy A. Collins (180 pages) – The third in The Vamps series. The ultra-rich and ultra-dead girls of the exclusive Bathory Academy in New York are a little Gossip Girl, and a little Twilight, if that makes sense.

First line: ‘Cally had been to Rauhnacht parties before, but none as elaborate as this.

Renegade : Hell’s Underground 3, by Alan Gibbons (359 pages) – ‘Entertainingly gruesome’, ‘definately scary’, gripping, action packed story’. The book has a very creepy skull on the cover also. We’d love someone to review this for us!

First line: ‘Chaim Wetzel learned at an early age that the streets of London were as likely to be paved with horror as with gold.

New Girl : a Secrets at St Jude’s novel, by Carmen Reid (331 pages) – Gina spent all her money on clothes and failed at school, so her mother sends her to a boarding school in Scotland. Which is quite a contrast to California.

First line: ‘Gina Peterson didn’t hear the electric gates slide open, or the silver Mercedes convertible purr through into the drive.

Thirst No. 1, by Christopher Pike (564 pages) – This collects the first three books of a series originally published in the mid-90s, the The Last Vampire.

First line: ‘I am a vampire, and that is the truth.

Tuck, by Stephen Lawhead (443 pages) – The third book in the King Raven series, which are based on the legend of Robin Hood. Good historical fiction!

First line: ‘King William stood scratching the back of his hand and watched as another bag of gold was emptied into the ironclad chest: one hundred solid gold byzants that, added to fifty pounds in silver and another fifty in letters of promise to be paid upon collection of his tribute from Normandie, brought the total to five hundred marks. phew

Revolver, by Marcus Sedgwick (219 pages) – The Arctic Circle, 1910; Sig, a teenaged Swede, is stuck in a cabin with the frozen corpse of his father. Sound grim, and can only get worse before it gets better. Full of twists! Here’s a glowing review.

First line: ‘Even the dead tell stories.

New music is what we have

la rouxLa Roux means “red-haired one” in French – this is a good name for them since singer Elly Jackson has red hair. They’ve been topping the UK charts for a few months now with an impressive run of 80’s synth-pop inspired singles and have now released La Roux, their self-titled debut.

phoenixFrench electro-rockers Phoenix have been around for a while now, but recent release Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix sees them mastering their craft and conjuring up some of the catchiest pop of the year. If you dig MGMT and Empire Of The Sun, pick this record up.

ciaraFantasy Ride, Ciara’s third is the type of album that will get plenty of play in the clubs this upcoming summer. Guests include Justin Timberlake and MIssy Elliott, the production is supremely glossy and the grooves danceable. Also included is a DVD where you can watch Ciara in the studio and at rehearsals and things.

Blindspott broke up in 2007 to focus on solo commitments playing a final set to a sold out Powerstation, this show has now been released on a handy dandy CD + DVD combo as Sold out: live @ Powerstation, for everyone who wasn’t there, or wants to relive the night. As expected from Blindspott, it’s a largely shouty, noisy affair. It also works as a sort of greatest hits package if you want it to do that to.


Fantastic Mr. Fox

This summer looks to be the summer of beloved childrens books being turned into good movies. With Maurice Sendak’s Where The Wild Things Are, and now Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox set for cinematic release one can only speculate what will be next. Personally, I’d like to see Willard Price’s Adventure series get a turn. Anyway, here is the trailer for Fantastic Mr. Fox, starring George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray and directed by Wes Anderson.

New YA magazines

Not so long ago we asked which magazines should get added to the Young Adult (YA) magazine collection. Not too many people responded, but that’s okay! We’re not too disappointed! As a consequence we have added Entertainment Weekly to the YA collection – it means you can issue it for free on a YA card. (If you reserve it through the catalogue be sure to reserve the YA copy.)

We are also adding Shonen Jump. It’s not yet in the system but there is a website. Good news for manga fans, is it not. Okay, cool.

Help us help them help you

The Wellington City Council would like your opinion as to which name they should use for an upcoming photography competition for the youth of Wellington (i.e. most of you).

The options are:

  • Point Click Poneke
  • Photocentric
  • Youthspective
  • Whippersnappers
  • Do you see what I see?

Which is best? Leave a comment below. Thanks!

More music fiction

Laura, one of our librarian friends, found this article in the LA Times about music in YA fiction, which has got some good stuff. It’s a good addition to this Top 10 post we did.

Top 10: civil wars and revolutions

Civil wars are rich material for fiction (conflict, critical choices, tales of transformation and beating the odds etc) and unsurprisingly there’s a lot written about the subject. Here’s a selection.

  1. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (United States). Marmie and the girls are sheltered from the war, but there is in the background the worry about what’s going to happen to Father, a chaplain in the union army.
  2. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (French Revolution). An English man gets tangled in the French Revolution.
  3. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation by M T Anderson (United States). M T Anderson’s marathon tale in two volumes about Octavian, a young African American caught up in the revolutionary war, is one of those things that people rave about, and that make you feel very clever if you read them.
  4. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria). After the British left Nigeria in the 1960s the struggle for power saw many years of conflict. Half of a Yellow Sun is set during the Nigerian-Biafran War (1967-1970).
  5. The Merrybegot by Julie Hearn (United Kingdom). “In 1645 in a remote English village there are rumours of bad magic, pointing to the midwife’s granddaughter, Nell. Fifty years later Patience Madden has a confession to make about what really happened to her sister, Grace and the poor girl, Nell. Set at the height of the witch craze in England in the 1640s during the Civil War, when a significant number of accusers were the young daughters of Puritan ministers. The writer makes use of the fact that young Charles II really was sent to the west country in 1645 at the age of 15, but his involvement in this story is pure make-believe.” (Catalogue entry)
  6. Red Moon at Sharpsburg by Rosemary Wells (United States). “When the Civil War breaks out, life in the South is transformed and nothing remains the same. India Moody must summon the courage she didn’t know she had to plunge into one of the war’s most tragic and terrifying events – the Battle of Antietam, known in the South as Sharpsburg – in order to get medicine to her desperately sick father. As she struggles for survival during the Union’s brutal occupation, India gets an education in love and loss, the senseless devastation of war, and the triumph of hope in the face of despair.” (Amazon.co.uk)
  7. Only a Matter of Time by Stewart Ross (Kosovo). “It’s early 1999 when Drita, an Albanian, and Zoran, a Serb, become friends. They’re just like any other teenagers. But this is Kosovo, and Serb-Albanian tension is rising. Drita and Zoran’s families are now enemies and the couple are forced to meet in secret. The events that follow are enough to blow apart even the strongest of friendships, and Drita and Zoran are about to begin a fight for their lives. Will their friendship survive?” (Amazon.co.uk)
  8. The New World Order by Ben Jeapes. Features the British civil war… and an alien invasion.
  9. Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones (Papua New Guinea/Bougainville). Matilda’s island existence is threatened in horrific fashion as she discovers a passion for Great Expectations.
  10. Snow falling in spring: Coming of age in China during the cultural revolution by Moying Li. A memoir of growing up in China during the cultural revoltion in the 1960s.

And then some AC/DC CDs came in…

Three of them actually. 1977’s Let There Be Rock, 1980’s Back In Black and 1990’s The Razor’s Edge, making all of them too old to get a YA card [see here for reference – G]. Even though they’re getting on a bit, they still rock totally hard and you can catch them in Wellington next January. Until then, why not practise your screechy vocals along with the albums?


Do you know Kung Fu?

Well not quite, but if you’re at the central library next Tuesday the 25th of August between 7 and 8pm you’ll pick up a few invaluable tips on how to keep yourself safe. The Safe and Sound seminar goes a little something like this:

– A mini Body Combat warm up class with Alice Khaw from Les Mills (what’s Body Combat?);

– A session with Tony Moore from the Ministry of Youth Development, ex police and current black belt.

Should be fun and informative. Be there and bring a friend (wearing clothes that you can, you know, bend in)!

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