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

Month: November 2009 Page 1 of 4

Read These New Books

Once again, here’s a large selection of new books, from fairies to vampires to werewolves to survivalists to society’s elite (pirates and witches).

Rapture of the Deep, L A Meyer (454 pages) – for lovers of the Bloody Jack adventures, here’s the next. Jacky thinks she’s getting married, but actually she’s being kidnapped by British Naval Intelligence and made to dive for treasure near Havana, which isn’t necessarily such a terrible thing when you’re the piratical spy type.

First sentence: “Ah, and it’s a bonny, bonny bride ye shall be, Jacky.”

Re-Gifters, Mike Carey, Sonny Liew and Marc Hempel (graphic novel) – Dixie is a soon-to-be maybe champion of hapkido (a martial art), but her life gets complicated when she meets and falls for surfery boy Adam. Winning her championship and also Adam could be tricky: there are lessons to be learned for Dixie.

Tallow, Karen Brooks (404 pages) – The Curse of the Bond Riders Book 1. Tallow is rescued as a child by a candlemaker. As he grows up, his mysterious and deadly talents are revealed, and all manner of ominous people – both enemies and allies – become interested in him. A fantasy story based on historical Italy with excellent reviews!

First sentence: “I know you’re out there.”

Splendor, Anna Godbersen (394 pages) – the last of the Luxe novels, or at least I think it is. Will Diana and Henry find a way to be together without having Manhattan’s society up in arms?

First sentence: Fifty years ago every American girl wanted to be a European princess.

Battleground, Chris Ryan (305 pages) – the SAS supremo writer is back again, this time with the story of 14 year old Ben who finds himself kidnapped in Afghanistan. Which sounds bad, but worse is the fact that he discovers they’ve got a nuclear weapon on them.

First sentence: “Ambush!”

X Isle, Steve Augarde (477 pages) – see what he’s doing with the title? X Isle is the only way out after the floods come and devastate the globe. Sounds like a grim disaster novel (Adrienne might like it!).

First sentence: The steady chug of the diesel engine drew closer, and eventually the salvage boat emerged from the mist, a blank grey shape steering a middle course between the ghostly lines of chimney stacks that rose from the water.

Destiny’s Path, Frewin Jones (329 pages) – book two in the Warrior Princess series, good news if you’ve already read the first one. Branwen is still uncomfortable with the idea of being the Chosen One, but then she’s shown a vision of life if she abandons her destiny, and it’s pretty bleak.

First sentence: Branwen Ap Griffith pulled back on the reins and her weary horse gradually came to a halt, snorting softly and shaking its mane.

Ash, Malinda Lo (264 pages) – A fairy tale; Ash, recovering from the death of her father, dreams that the fairies will “steal her away” then meets Sidhean (a fairy). Because stories need a complication to work (truly they do), she also meets Kaisa (not a fairy) who teaches her to hunt and with whom she becomes friends. The result? A literary tug of war.

First sentence: Aisling’s mother died at midsummer.

We Were Here, Matt de la Pena (356 pages) – Miguel is sent to juvi, then escapes with Rondell and Mong (great names, together), hoofing it to Mexico where he hopes he’ll have a chance to start over. A story of self-discovery and learning to forgive yourself (among other things).

First sentence: Here’s the thing: I was probably gonna write a book when I got older anyways.

Taken, Nora McClintock (165 pages) – stress extreme. As mentioned in this post, Stephanie is captured by a serial killer then escapes (good for her) and must survive in the middle of nowhere (bad for her).

First sentence: My stomach clenched as the bus rumbled across the county line.

Once a Witch, Carolyn MacCullough (292 pages) – Tamsin pretends to be her talented witchy older sister, which might seem like a good idea at the time, but one thing leads to another… this book contains it all; fantasy, romance, witchcraft and time travel.

First sentence: I was born on the night of Samhain, when the barrier between the worlds is whisper thin adn when magic, old magic, sings its heady and sweet song to anyone who cares to hear it.

Ghost Town, Richard Jennings (165 pages) – I’ve filched this from the catalogue because it’s way to complex for me to explain: “Thirteen-year-old Spencer Honesty and his imaginary friend, an Indian called Chief Leopard Frog, improbably achieve fame and riches in the abandoned town of Paisley, Kansas, when Spencer begins taking photographs with his deceased father’s ancient camera and Chief Leopard Frog has his poems published by a shady businessman in the Cayman Islands.”

First sentence: “Well, I guess that makes it official,” I said to Chief Leopard Frog.

Destroy All Cars, Blake Nelson (205 pages, plus appendices) – James Hoff is into the environment – he wants to, as the title suggests, destroy all cars. His ex-girlfriend, Sadie, is also into the environment, but James thinks she’s soft, merely wanting to build cycleways. Naturally there’s going to be some sort of romantic showdown that may well be a bit messy.

First sentence (sort of): We stand at the edge.

Suicide Notes, Michael Thomas Ford (295 pages) – Jeff’s in a psychiatric ward, recovering from a suicide attempt, and learning valuable lessons from the “crazies” around him. “Compelling, witty and refreshingly real.”

First sentence: I read somewhere that when astronauts come back to Earth after floating around in space they get sick to their stomachs because of the air here smells like rotting meat to them.

My Vicksburg, Ann Rinaldi (149 pages) – set during the American civil war. Claire Louise is forced to make a difficult choice between saving a friend’s life and being loyal to family (and state).

First sentence: The only reason we came back to town, and stayed during that terrible nightmare of a time, those forty-seven days of confusion and heartbreak that made up the siege of Vicksburg, was because of Sammy the cat.

I Lost My Mobile at the Mall: Teenager on the Edge of  Technological Breakdown, Wendy Harmer (319 pages) – the mobile in question even has a photo of Elly’s friend standing next to Hugh Jackman, no less, so it really is a big deal!

First sentences: My name is Elly Pickering. I’ve lost my mobile phone at the mall and am now facing certain death.

Changeling: Dark Moon, Steve Feasey (325 pages) – Trey Laporte is back, which is just as well since Lucien is lying in a coma and Trey can save him. The back of the book says it so much better: “… to succeed he must face his biggest challenge yet: a portal to the Netherworld, an Icelandic zombie, an evil sorceress, and Trey’s nemesis, the dark vampire Caliban.” All zombies should be Icelandic.

First sentence: The vampire Lucien Charron lay motionless on a high-sided bed in his Docklands apartment.

Sideshow: Ten Original Tales of Freaks, Illusionists, and Other Matters Odd and Magical (199 pages plus a small graphic short story) – Some famous YA authors contribute to this collection, including Annette Curtis Klause (Blood and Chocolate), Margo Lanagan (Tender Morsels), David Almond (Skellig) and Cynthia Leitich Smith (Tantalize).

First sentence (Aimee Bender): Mom bought me the razor when I was thirteen.

Nothing Like You, Lauren Strasnick (209 pages) – update: now that I’ve had a read I can summarise. Holly is nearly finished high school and gets herself into really messy relationship issues. This is a well-written book about figuring out the important things in life, learning from mistakes, and love (kind of reminds me a little bit of Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr). A good example of a realistic, non-romantic first person narrator.

Very briefly:

Avalon High: Coronation: Volume 3: Hunter’s Moon, Meg Cabot (graphic novel)


Want to watch Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince again? Reserve your copy of the young adult DVD here now and then wait just a leetle bit.

Vampire Diaries on the telly next year

We (well, me) and at least two readers have wondered when The Vampire Diaries is going to be screened on TV in NZ. Finally it has been confirmed! First, by Becs in this here comment, and again in an article in the Otago Daily Times, which says that it will screen on TV One, rather than TV2. I wouldn’t have put money on that! So long as it’s not on at the same time as Glee, is all.

The Vampire Diaries begin in early 2010.

Help Ella Plan Cool Events for 2010

Hello, Ella asked us to post a reminder about her feedback-with-food session on Thursday the 3rd of December. For details visit this post and to let her know if you’re interested in sharing your ideas.

For Your Ears

jay zThe Blueprint 3 is actually Jay-Z’s fourth album in the Blueprint series (there was a confusing 2.1 released at some point) and his first post-unretirement. It continues in the same vein as it’s predecessors, radio hits mixed with more introspective tunes – mix in some guest spots and I guess you could say that’s the blueprint for the Blueprints. Hoho.

michael jacksonThis Is It : The Music That Inspired The Movie has arrived upon the catalogue. For Michael Jackson completists it has a bonus disc full (well three out of four tracks) of demo versions of songs, for other people it has a selection of his singles dating back to Jackson 5 days.

new moonContinuing with the music from movies theme; New Moon Soundtrack. A who’s who of indie rock singing about things loosely related to the acting output of a who’s who of people who pretend to be vampires, werewolves and the girls that love them. Grizzly Bear, Thom Yorke, Death Cab For Cutie and more.

The Time Of Our Lives is an EP by Miley Cyrus that was released exclusively at Wal-Mart to help promote her new clothing line. Eight songs including a live one featuring the Jonas Brothers. Well worth a look if Miley makes you smiley.

Mika returns with album number two, it’s called The Boy Who Knew Too Much. This is an ominous title. Who is this boy? What did he know? If I listen will I find out, or merely discover a dancey pop album destined for heavy rotation across the airwaves? Questions, but no answers. I remain suspicious.

Now That’s What I Call Music 31 is another of those collections of songs that someone calls music. Only this time it’s twice as big, because instead of just the one CD, there’s now two. Bonus! Features Beyonce, Ladyhawke, Kelly Clarkson and about a million others.

Gin Wigmore’s Holy Smoke debuted at number one, went gold it’s first week, and went platinum it’s second. Quite the success by anyone’s measure. If you don’t already have this, you can issue it from us. For free.

Have a Robert Muchamore Character Named After You

That’s right, Robert Muchamore is running a competition on his CHERUB website. If you’re quick (you have until the 26th of November) you might find yourself (or your name at least) in one of his books. See the CHERUB news page for more information and to enter.

Amazon’s Top 10 Books for Teens

It’s Best Books of the Year season again! Amazon.com has published it’s best of 2009 list – you can see it here, but I thought I’d provide catalogue links below, so you can reserve and read and see what you think.

  1. Beautiful Creatures, Margaret Stohl 
  2. Shiver, Maggie Stiefvater
  3. Going Bovine, Libba Bray
  4. Leviathan, Scott Westerfeld
  5. Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice, Phillip M Hoose
  6. Marcelo in the Real World, Francisco X Stork
  7. Fire, Kristin Cashore
  8. The Ask and the Answer, Patrick Ness
  9. Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins
  10. If I Stay, Gayle Forman

Review New Moon for us! There’s another poster in it

Exams? What exams?

As with the lovely Taylor Lautner posters, we’ve got another New Moon movie poster that we thought we’d give to the first person who tells us what they thought of New Moon (which we think some of you might have seen already). As usual, the catch is you have to review it in haiku form (explanation here again). Eligible only for WCL YA cardholders. Please add your full name [we won’t publish it]. The poster has folds in it again (sorry).

I suppose the other catch for me is I should provide an example review haiku thing, so here goes:

The movie begins…
Love, tragedy, danger, then-
“Put the shirt back on!”

So many new books. so many

There are many, many new books this week. Here they are!

Oathbreaker : Assassin’s Apprentice, by S. R. Vaught and J. B. Redmond (374 pages) – High fantasy at its highest. Aron is kidnapped and forced to become an assassin in a world of powerful magic and shapeshifters. Should he avenge his family’s death?

First line: ‘Hot winds blew across the Watchline, twisting rusted wires against rotted fence posts.

Pastworld, by Ian Beck (353 pages) – It is 2048, and London has been transformed into a giant Victorian-era themepark. Its inhabitants do not know this! Visitors are a bit like time-travellers, and Caleb – one such visitor – finds himself accused of a murder by the local olde constabulary.

First line: ‘It was the cold hour before dawn.’

The Genius Wars, by Catherine Jinks (384 pages) – The conclusion to the Genius Trilogy. Cadel must launch an all-out attack on Prosper English, who is now a fugitive determined to take down all of Cadel’s loved ones.

First line: ‘Two dented lift doors were embedded in a wall of pebblecrete.

The Waters and the Wild, by Francesca Lia Block (113 pages) – A new book from one of the best writers in YA fiction. And it’s pretty brief, so perfect for a quick & magical read.

First lines: ‘When Bee woke up, there was a girl standing in her room. “You are me,” the girl said. Then she was gone.

The Glittering Eye, by L. J. Adlington (309 pages) – Shabti wakes in a field and has no memories. And Amy, daughter of an archaeologist, arrives in Egypt. They are connected! But you won’t guess how …

First line: ‘He woke up in a barley field.

Crashed, by Robin Wasserman (440 pages) – Lia died six months ago. She’s now a mech, and has to choose between humanity and the sheer awesomeness of being a machine. The second book in a trilogy! (The first is Skinned.)

First line: ‘When I was alive, I dreamed of flying.

The Demon’s Lexicon, by Sarah Rees Brennan (329 pages) – Nick’s mother stole a charm from the most feared of magicians, and his brother, Alan, has been marked by a demon. Which leads to death! Nick must face the magicians, whose powers are sourced from demons, and he must kill them to save his brother.

First line: ‘The pipe under the sink was leaking again.

After The Moment, by Garret Freymann-Weyr (328 pages) – There is a summary inside, which I can lazily copy. ‘When seventeen-year-old Leigh changes high schools his senior year to help his stepsister, he finds himself falling in love with her emotionally disturbed friend, although he is still attached to a girl back home.’

First line: ‘Leigh Hunter thought he’d said goodbye to her almost four years ago.

The Twilight Saga – New Moon : The Official Illustrated Movie Companion, by Mark Cotta Vaz (141 pages) – Something about vampires and werewolves? Never heard of it myself. I wonder if it will be popular.

Marcelo In The Real World, by Francisco X. Stork (312 pages) – Marcelo Sandoval has a form of autism that leads him to hear music all the time. His father challenges him to work in his law firm’s mailroom, and there Marcelo faces new challenges. ‘Reminiscent of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time,‘ says the blurb. 

First lines: ‘“Marcelo, are you already?” I lift up my thumb. It means that I am ready.

Headlong, by Kathe Koja (195 pages) – Lily attends the private Vaughn School, and has done so since preschool. New girl Hazel – whose background is vastly different to Lily’s privileged upbringing – and Lily become firm friends, and Hazel shows Lily what life has to offer.

First line: ‘A black circle-in-a-circle-in-a-circle, a bull’s-eye, a target: I trimmed it from the symbol sheet, painted on glue, stuck it to the underside of the vestal’s upraised wrist, one of the few blank spaces left on her.

In The Path of Falling Objects, by Andrew Smith (323 pages) – Brother Simon and Jonah take a road trip to find their other brother, who is in the army. They get a ride with a crazy man and a strange woman, and it quickly becomes the ride from Hell.

First line: ‘The only shade there is blackens a rectangle in the dirt beneath the overhang of the seller’s open stall.

Front and Center, by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (254 pages) – Like everyone in her family, D.J.  Schwenk is VERY tall. And she’s wanted by College scouts, town hoops fans, and a couple of fellas. [The one that comes after Dairy Queen and The Off Season – Grimm]

First line: ‘Here are ten words I never thought I’d be saying …

Hush, Hush, by Becca Fitzgerald (391 pages) – Nora Grey isn’t interested in romance until transfer student Patch appears. He’s dreamy and mysterious and he’s also an angel, I think? If you like Twilight you may appreciate this – reviewers have commented favourably on the character of Nora compared with Bella.

First line: ‘Chauncey was with a farmer’s daughter on the grassy banks of the Loire River when the storm rolled in, and having let his gelding wander in the meadow, was left to his own two feet to carry him back to the chateau.

Warrior King, by Sue Purkiss (265 pages) – It is the ninth-century. King Alfred the Great has a plan – a good plan! – to get rid of the Vikings invading Britain (I guess they were bad?), but what will it mean for Fleda, his daughter?

First line: ‘Alfred couldn’t find his mother.

Confessions of a First Daughter, by Cassidy Calloway (214 pages) – Morgan’s mum is the president of the US. Morgan’s tendency for ‘screwing things up’ means that she often makes the news, always for the wrong reasons. When her mother has to go on a secret mission, Morgan steps in for her; with a little makeup, no one will spot the difference. Maybe.

First line: ‘I wonder if my mother ever feels like throwing up before she delivers an important speech.

Unsigned Hype, by Booker T. Mattison (206 pages) – Fifteen-year-old Tory Tyson and his partner Fat Mike enter the Unsigned Hype contest on a radio station. If he makes it his whole life will change. BUT will he win?

First line: ‘Somebody’s banging on my front door and it’s rocking the house harder than the beat I’m laying down in my bedroom.

Academy 7, by Anne Osterlund (257 pages) – Aerin and Dane are both new to the most exclusive academy in the whole UNIVERSE. Their secrets will soon unite them in this genre-spanning sci-fi romance mystery.

First line: ‘Aerin tried to ignore the bloodstain on the control panel of the Fugitive.’
(There aren’t enough fishhooks.)

The Center of the Universe : Yep, That Would Be Me, by Anita Liberty (286 pages) – A ‘profound, touching and hilarious’ story of one girl’s junior and senior years at high school. I read parts! It IS hilarious.

First lines: ‘My name is Anita Li … That was stupid. Why am I introducing myself?

Chasing the Bear : A Young Spenser Novel, by Robert B. Parker (169 pages) – Robert B. Parker has written a LOT of novels about Spenser, a private eye who solves mysteries. They’re all in the adult fiction collection. This book is for younger readers and is about Spenser’s youth in Wyoming.

First line: ‘I was sitting with the girl of my dreams on a bench in the Boston Public Garden watching the swan boats circle the little lagoon.

Would You Rather?, by Chris Higgins (261 pages)

Serendipity Market, by Penny Blubaugh (268 pages)

Rowan the Strange, by Julie Hearn (332 pages)

Ten Books With Disaster and Destruction

We asked Adrienne for a list of her favourite disaster novels, and she out did herself. Here’s her list of ten, plus some extra, genre-defining classics.

1 Life as we knew it, Susan Beth Pfeffer. It’s almost the end of Miranda’s sophomore year in high school, and her journal reflects the busy life of a typical teenager. When Miranda first begins hearing the reports of a meteor on a collision course with the moon, it hardly seems worth a mention in her diary. But after the meteor hits, pushing the moon off its axis and causing worldwide earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes, all the things Miranda used to take for granted begin to disappear. Food and gas shortages, along with extreme weather changes, come to her small Pennsylvania town.Her family is forced to make tough choices while they consider their increasingly limited options. The second book in the series is The Dead and the Gone.

2 Little Brother, Cory Doctorow. Not really about the end of the world, but a scary situation anyway. Seventeen-year-old techno-geek “w1n5t0n” (aka Marcus) bypasses the school’s gait-recognition system by placing pebbles in his shoes, chats secretly with friends on his IMParanoid messaging program, and routinely evades school security with his laptop, cell, WifFnder, and ingenuity. While skipping school, Marcus is caught near the site of a terrorist attack on San Francisco and held by the Department of Homeland Security for six days of intensive interrogation. After his release, he vows to use his skills to fight back against an increasingly frightening system of surveillance. Set in the near future, Doctorow’s novel blurs the lines between current and potential technologies, and readers will delight in the details of how Marcus attempts to stage a techno-revolution. You can download this book for free from the authors’ website.

3 H-Bomb Girl, Stephen Baxter. This book is set in Liverpool 1962; a place and time of danger and passion. A thrilling new music is bursting on to the grey streets of the post-war city: a music that electrifies, a music that promises to change everything. But in Cuba, on the other side of the earth, nuclear tensions are at breaking point. The end of the whole world could be just days away. At the heart of it all is fourteen-year-old Laura Mann. She’s on the run, hunted by strange forces fighting over the future of humanity. Laura is the H-Bomb Girl. And Laura is about to discover that her own life is at stake – in ways she could never have imagined. Check out Stephen Baxter’s book Flood. More apocalyptic goodness.

4 Winter of Fire, Sheryl Jordan (NZ author). Elsha is a young girl living in a bleak, cold future where worldwide cloud cover has permanently blocked out the sun. Humans have split into two classes – the Chosen and the Quelled, of which Elsha is the latter. The Quelled are doomed to spend their lives in servitude to the Chosen mining “firestones” – the only means of warmth on the planet. A rebellious girl, Elsha causes trouble for herself – even going so far as being considered for execution – until she is made the unprecedented heir to the Firelord – the leader of the Chosen.

5 Small Minded Giants, Oisin McGann. Beyond the huge domed roof of Ash Harbour, deadly storms and Arctic temperatures have stripped the Earth bare. Sinister bodies reign supreme, and undercover operations are rife. When sixteen-year-old Sol Wheat’s father goes missing and is accused of murder, Sol sets out to find out why, and in doing so uncovers the harsh reality behind the city. Searching through the under-city’s skeletal maze , Sol’s every move is watched by the menacing Clockworkers and the mysterious Dark-Day Fatalists as he tries desperately to find his father. Even more sinister secrets are exposed when it becomes clear that the Machine that keeps the fragile city alive is running out of power…

6 Tomorrow When the War Began (Series), John Marsden. The astonishing adventure begins… Ellie and her friends leave home on a quiet morning, wave goodbye to their parents, and head up into the hills to camp out for a while; seven teenagers filling in time during the school holidays. The world is about to change forever. Their lives will never be the same again. Would you fight? Would you give up everything? Would you sacrifice even life itself?

7 Genesis, Bernard Beckett (NZ Author). In a terrifying and stifling examination environment a young Academy candidate, Anaximander, is put through a gruelling exercise in interpreting the history and origins of her society. Through her answers, we learn that in 2052, New Zealand has been renamed The Republic after a reforming Governor, Plato. It has separated itself from a plague-ridden globe with a gargantuan ring-fence guarded with military outposts. All approaching boats, exploratory air craft or refugees are shot on sight. Society is strictly divided and individuals deviate from their assigned roles at their peril.

8 The City of Ember, Jeanne Du Prau. It is always night in the city of Ember. But there is no moon, no stars. The only light during the regular twelve hours of “day” comes from floodlamps that cast a yellowish glow over the streets of the city. Beyond are the pitch-black Unknown Regions, which no one has ever explored because an understanding of fire and electricity has been lost, and with it the idea of a Moveable Light. Among the many other things the people of Ember have forgotten is their past and a direction for their future. For 250 years they have lived pleasantly, because there has been plenty of everything in the vast storerooms. But now there are more and more empty shelves–and more and more times when the lights flicker and go out, leaving them in terrifying blackness for long minutes. What will happen when the generator finally fails?

Twelve-year-old Doon Harrow and Lina Mayfleet seem to be the only people who are worried. They have just been assigned their life jobs–Lina as a messenger, which leads her to knowledge of some unsettling secrets, and Doon as a Pipeworker, repairing the plumbing in the tunnels under the city where a river roars through the darkness. But when Lina finds a very old paper with enigmatic “Instructions for Egress,” they use the advantages of their jobs to begin to puzzle out the frightening and dangerous way out of their city of darkness.

9 The Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness. Chased by a madman preacher and possibly the rest of his townsfolk as well, young Todd Hewitt flees his settlement on a planet where war with the natives has killed all the women and infected the men with a germ that broadcasts their thoughts aloud for all to hear. The first of many secrets is revealed when Todd discovers an unsettling hole in the Noise, and quickly realizes that he lives in a much different world than the one he thought he did. Book one in the Chaos Walking trilogy. Grab book two – The Ask and the Answer.

10 The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins. This is the first book of the Hunger Games trilogy. It introduces sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives in a post-apocalyptic world where a powerful government called the Capitol has risen up after several devastating disasters. In the book, the Hunger Games are an annual televised event where the ruthless Capitol randomly selects one boy and one girl from each of the twelve districts, who are then pitted against each other in a game of survival and forced to kill until only one remains.

You won’t be able to put this book down; it has been one of the most popular teen novels of 2009. Watch out for the movie coming soon…

Some classics (after the jump)

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