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

Month: September 2009 Page 1 of 4

Zines, Superpowers and Don from Madmen: an interview with a library buyer

So who buys the library books then? WCL has a team of eight people who are lucky enough to spend most of their time buying books, magazines, CDs and DVDs. This is a fairly ideal job if you really like spending money, and really like reading, listening to music and watching movies. Stephanie is one of the young adult selectors and we thought we’d ask her a few questions.

1) What’s the strangest book you’ve bought for the library and/or what’s the strangest suggestion to buy you’ve received from a customer?

Well, as well as books for children and teens I also buy zines for the Library. You know what they are right? For those that don’t basically they’re self published magazines and you can write them on just about any topic imaginable! So some of the strangest ones I’ve brought are: I was unaware they made black jeans that small; little dead riding hood; super pash action; why no one gets tight with the geek; I was a teenaged Mormon; I hate my mom’s cat and fish piss. Ok, so they ain’t that strange but they do have cool titles! They are also free to issue on the first floor of the Central Library. You should check them out sometime.

I can’t remember any really strange suggestion to buys, but Kathleen who works with me just showed me one for a book called “how to amputate a leg”, which is pretty weird.

2) When you were at school what did you want to be “when you grew up”?

I wanted to be a marine biologist when I was really young. I lived by the sea and my brother and I made friends with sea anemones. But really it wasn’t too serious. I just thought it sounded cool. I’m pretty happy doing what I do now though. Buying books is fun 🙂

3) What superpower would make your job easier?

Um, maybe the power to clone myself so one of me could sit outside and read in the sun and eat bread and cheese and the other could be inside doing work and getting paid!

4) What things did you read when you were at high school?

I feel really bad saying this but I didn’t read too much at high school, mostly just the prescribed texts. I was a big reader at primary and intermediate and then took a long break and only got back into reading for fun when I was at university.

5) What YA books have you read lately (that you’ve enjoyed)?

Right now I’m enjoying reading Catching Fire, which is the sequel to The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I also enjoyed the Twilight series (well mostly when it wasn’t making me cringe), How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, The 10pm Question by Kate De Goldi and Violence 101 by my friend Dennis Wright. I plan to read heaps more too, ‘cos as I’m buying them for you guys I’m thinking “that looks awesome” and so I have to reserve it for myself.

6) If you were marooned on a desert island with three people (of your choice), three items of food and three books, who and what would you choose?

Ok so this is a hard one! I would choose Don from Madmen (‘cos he’s nice to look at), my friend Carmel (‘cos we have fun together) and Katniss from Catching Fire (‘cos she looks like she could handle just about anything!). For food I would have breads, cheeses and cakes! And books I couldn’t decide. Because I work in a library I never really read anything twice so perhaps something new? I’ve recently reserved Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (because Grimm said it’s like The Time Traveler’s Wife, which is one of my favourite books) and The Great Death by John Smelcer (it’s gotten good reviews) and The Key to the Golden Firebird by Maureen Johnson (recommended by my co-selector Tom).

Worst. Movies. Ever.

As the decade draws to a close more and more websites will start posting top 100 lists looking back on the 2000s, or the noughties, or whatever it was we decided to call it. Other websites will do the opposite and post bottom 100 lists, like Rotten Tomatoes has with this, its worst movies of the decade list. Simon and I noticed we had a fair few of these in the catalogue, so if you’d like to watch something terrible for laughs …

82. Supercross: The Movie
81. Extreme Ops
60. The Perfect Man
46. Material Girls
38. Happily N’Ever After
26. Kickin’ It Old Skool
21. Epic Movie
And worst of them all…. 1. Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever

Enjoy, I suppose.

Top 10 Books Banned in the USA (That We Have In Our Young Adult Collection)

It’s Banned Books Week, the ‘national celebration of the freedom to read’. It’s a US thing – for whatever reason, very few (if any) books are challenged here – but it allows us to make a pretty interesting list of some of our favourite books. A list we call Top 10 Books Banned in the USA (That We Have In Our Young Adult Collection).

1. His Dark Materials Trilogy, by Phillip Pullman
2. TTYL, TTFN, and L8R, G8R, by Lauren Myracle
3. The Scary Stories series, by Alvin Schwartz
4. The Gossip Girl series, by Cecily Von Ziegesar
5. The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger
6. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
7. The Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
8. Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes
9. Forever, by Judy Blume
10. Baby Bebop, Francesca Lia Block

Gamers rejoice

The 2009 Tokyo Game Show is under way, and a massive trailer for Final Fantasy XIII (that’s 13 in Roman numerals) has been released. It’s in Japanese! So probably difficult to follow, unless you’re able to understand Japanese. Either way it sure looks good. It won’t be available outside Japan until about the middle of 2010.

Update! There’s a subtitled version. Enjoy.

The trailer is available below –

Read More

Shivers it’s cold

Twilight fans, read this book:

Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater

When she was eleven, Grace was attacked by a pack of wolves but, in an unexpected turn of events, was rescued by one of them. Rather than feeling phobic, Grace feels drawn to and protective of the wolves, especially her rescuer, the one with the yellow eyes. She admits to being obsessed, and she’s a bit lost in summer, when the wolves are notably absent.

Sam, a part-time yellow-eyed eighteen year old boy, feels a similar connection to Grace, and when the wolves are hunted by men baying for blood, he finds himself wounded on Grace’s porch in his human form. Just as well, then, that she takes this discovery in her stride and copes admirably, getting him to hospital and then smuggling him out again when he heals super-quickly. Then there’s the difficulty of keeping Sam warm, as it’s the cold that transforms him into a wolf, and his human stretches are getting shorter and shorter. Sam knows this is his “last year”, which makes his connection with Grace a tenuous thing.

You should read this book: it will make you go “ah”. It’s a thoughtfully put-together story (right down to the helpful temperature indicators at the beginning of each chapter), kind of like a Time-Traveler’s Wife for young adults with a tear jerker ending. A very good supernatural romance.

Maggie Stiefvater’s website states there’s a sequel, Linger, due out towards the end of next year too.

Classics Remixed

Note to potential authors: this is a good way of putting together the plot of your novel. Take a song, poem, children’s story, play, myth or legend and then tweak it cleverly. The cleverer the better, but sometimes simple works like a charm (see the bestselling Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, for example).

  1. Impossible, Nancy Werlin (‘Scarborough Fair’, made famous by Simon and Garfunkle) – seventeen year old Lucy must perform three seemingly impossible tasks before her daughter is born to save them both from a curse. Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
  2. Beauty, Robin McKinley (Beauty and the Beast) – a fairly straight retelling of the Beauty and the Beast story, but Beauty’s sisters are beautifuller than her, to begin with.
  3. Beastly, Alex Flinn (Beauty and the Beast) – a slightly more adventurous retelling, this time a “vain Manhattan private school student” (in the manner of say Nate Archibald?) gets the beast treatment.
  4. The Rose and the Beast: Fairy Tales Retold, Francesca Lia Block – nine classic fairytales are Francesca Lia Block-ed, in her usual poetic and imaginative fashion.
  5. Dating Hamlet, Lisa Fiedler – if you’re a Shakespeare purist then don’t read this, it’ll upset you. If you’re not, then you might like what Lisa Fiedler has done to Ophelia (who needed an overhaul, in that the most interesting thing she does is drown).
  6. Exposure, Mal Peet – another Shakespeare, this time Othello in the context of South American football.
  7. The Seeing Stone, Kevin Crossley-Holland (the legend of King Arthur) – Arthur is a 13 year old boy in 12th century England who is given a magical seeing stone by the wizard Merlin which enables him to see images of King Arthur. Through the stone he discovers many parallels between his own life and that of the king’s. The first of a trilogy.
  8. The Looking Glass Wars, Frank Beddor (Alice in Wonderland) – Wonderland is a real place and Alyss Heart, heir to the throne, must escape through the Pool of Tears to Victorian London, else her evil aunt Redd will murder her in the same way she did her parents. In a war between wicked stepmothers and evil aunts who would win, I wonder? Followed by Seeing Redd.
  9. Book of a Thousand Days, Shannon Hale (Maid Maleen by the Brothers Grimm) – the Grimm brothers move to the central Asian steppes (aka Mongolia).
  10. Once Upon a Time series (fairy tales) – more fairy tales than you can poke a stick at, from The Ballad of Mulan to Rapunzel.

Plus much more.

Two Men And Their Lion-y Pal

Have you seen this video? Go on, give it a watch.

If that made you smile, and really how could it not, we have the full story of Christian the Lion on DVD. It’s called A Lion Called Christian and it tells the true story of two men who bought a lion in a London department store, it’s release into the wild and their subsequent reunions. All very sweet and tearjerking.

And if you want some more things to watch we have these two; 17 Again starring the dreamy Zac Efron and Primeval series two which has giant Mastodons in it.

Stargate Fan?

Here’s the official trailer for Stargate Universe, prepared, it says, for the San Diego Comic Con, so it’s had the geek stamp of approval. This is a spin off, of course, from the very popular Stargate TV world.

Documentary Madness

Well, as long as five new DVDs is considered mad it’s madness. All kinds of bases are covered by this selection, and here they are…

brady barrBest of Dangerous Encounters with Brady Barr follows a reptile expert as he does all sorts of silly things in the name of science.  My favourite bit is when he wears a 200 pound kevlar suit covered in hippo dung to extract sweat from a hippo.

The Most Extreme is a series that follows all sorts of extreme behaviour in the animal kingdom. Fighters, Stinkers, Gluttons and many more are looked at in these fantastically shot episodes originally made for Animal Planet.

Sticking with the extreme, Gravity Games H2O is a four disc box set filled with wakeboarding, tow-in surfing, motorcross, kite surfing and other assorted watery hijinks. Except for the motorcross, I can’t explain it’s inclusion unless they somehow ride on water. Now that’d be extreme.

Ultimate Factories is a National Geographic series that goes to, well, ultimate factories. In this one they go see how Ferraris and M1 Tanks are produced. So if you’ve ever wondered how they put them together, now you can find out.

Naked Science: Surviving nature’s fury is a three disc set in the excellent National Geographic Naked Science series. These episodes look at asteroids, the Bermuda Triangle, alien contact and other popular and controversial scientific topics.

This week in new CDs

doomDoom is a masked rapper famous for being mysterious prolific and really, really good. He used to be known as MF Doom (and various other aliases), but dropped the MF, much like Diddy dropped the P from P. Diddy. Anyway, Born Like This is his latest. If you enjoy your hip hop old school and clever give this a listen, then delve deeper into his catalogue.

ginGin Wigmore is a local singer in the Amy Winehouse / Macy Gray mold of funny voiced songstresses. Her EP Gin: Extended Play went gold here this June and now arrives on our shelves. You’ve probably seen her videos and heard her on the radio, but if not pick this up if you like folksy pop.

ulcerateSticking with the local content, Ulcerate are New Zealand’s premier death metal oufit and they bring Everything is Fire to the table. It’s been lauded in the international growly vocals and pounding double kick pedalled drums community for being cerebral and forward thinking, though fans of loud noises will enjoy also.

liam finnLiam Finn pops back with Champagne in seashells, a wee five tracker recorded with Eliza Jane. It’s a nice follow up to I’ll be lightning and makes me look forward to his next full-length. More tasty pop-rock treats from our beardy pal.

tokio hotelGerman emo kids Tokio Hotel’s English language debut Scream serves up the sort of melodramatic rock now expected by the genre, the twist being that they (at the time of recording anyway) were all eligible for YA library cards. If your boat is floated by MCR etc. pick this up, as you’ll likely enjoy greatly.

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