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

Month: November 2013 Page 1 of 2

What I Wore

As you may have noticed, I love me a bit of ootd (or wiwt, depending on your preference!) action. Just something about looking at other people’s real, every day outfits (i.e – outfits that aren’t put together by a magazine stylist with oodles of fab expensive clothes and accessories to select from) is so fun, and also great for getting ideas for your own outfits! If you’re loving this trend too, I can recommend this book:

Syndetics book coverWhat I wore : four seasons, one closet, endless recipes for personal style / Jessica Quirk.What I Wore: Four Seasons, One Closet, Endless Recipes for Personal Style
“Quirk, the blogger behind What I Wore, a personal fashion-based blog she’s written since 2008, explains season by season and week by week how to build a fabulous wardrobe. Original, full-color illustrations created by the author will help readers have fun getting dressed and feel confident and stylish every day.” (Syndetics summary)

Written by the author of the What I Wore blog, this book is rad because it helps you to get the most out of the items in your wardrobe, by suggesting lots of different ways to wear them. It also suggests items that come in handy for each season, and is full of beautiful illustrations – and, of course, ootd pics!! Definitely get it out!

R n R’s guide to the ‘classics’

Because Nicola is amazing, as well as her guides to the graphic novels, she’s put together a guide to the ‘classics’. The notion that a book can be ‘classic’ is a contentious one. The term puts a group of books above everything else. But how is that possible when what makes good literature is so subjective? We do have a section devoted to ‘classic’ novels, which really means the ones that you’re likely to be asked to read for an English assignment. That being said, these novels are famous for a good reason; well written, sometimes funny, sometimes sad portraits of a particular time and place. Often, the ones we have classed as ‘classics’ are there because they’ve stood the test of time (another contentious term) in that they’ve been loved by several generations. Here are Nicola’s picks for the best of the best:

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsJane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre is definitely one of the great female characters of pre-feminist literature. Stroppy and headstrong, intelligent and self aware, she conquers not only dreadful relations and a dire school, but the heart of Mr. Rochester, a man equally as difficult as she is. But please don’t mistake the book for a sappy romantic novel; Jane has to make hard choices and refuses to compromise on her sense of ethics, even if it means losing the man she loves. The Brontë family is pretty incredible as all three sisters (Charlotte, Emily and Anne) wrote novels that have become widely classed as ‘classics.’ Emily wrote Wuthering Heights and Anne wrote The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. All three sisters were popular for the passion and originality in their writing.

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys

This was actually written as a companion piece to Jane Eyre. It’s no spoiler to say it deals with the life of Antoinette, Mr. Rochester’s first wife. Written in 1966, almost 120 years after Jane Eyre, it has a very different take on the world that Jane Eyre lived in. It mostly takes place in the Caribbean after the end of slavery and looks at race, class and sexism – themes unexplored in Jane Eyre.

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWorks of Charles Dickens

Where to begin? We’ve got almost all of his major works in the YA section. My particular favourite is Great Expectations (closely followed by Bleak House and Oliver Twist). Charles Dickens’ writing style can be a little hard to get into at first, but the first few are well worth persevering through. Despite my love for his novels, I will admit to finding his main characters a bit straightlaced; but the secondary characters sparkle with life. His books often take a satirical but realistic depiction of his society and its problems. He was regarded as the literary colossus of his age. A Christmas Carol, is one of the most influential works ever written, and it remains popular and continues to inspire adaptations in every artistic genre.

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Victor Hugo

If your only knowledge of this classic comes from the 1996 Disney movie, then you’re in for a shock. But like so many screen adaptations, the book is much better (but librarians would say that). In the vaulted Gothic towers of Notre-Dame lives Quasimodo, the hunchbacked bellringer. Mocked and shunned for his appearance, he is pitied only by Esmerelda, a beautiful gypsy dancer to whom he becomes completely devoted. Esmerelda, however, has also attracted the attention of the sinister archdeacon Claude Frollo, and when she rejects his lecherous approaches, Frollo hatches a plot to destroy her that only Quasimodo can prevent. This novel is a dark picture of life in pre-reformation Paris, depicting cruelty, passion, lust and jealousy, all centred around the eponymous cathedral.

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas

“Epic” doesn’t even begin to describe this book. It starts rather simply; Edmond Dantès is thrown in prison for a crime he hasn’t committed. There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and he becomes determined not only to escape, but also to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration. But that simple premise also encompasses stories of debt, class, love, illegitimate children, murder… and that’s about half of what happens before the end of the book. Certainly not a light read, but a breathtaking saga that encompasses years.

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Lord of the Rings trilogy, J. R. R. Tolkien

Some would baulk at including The Lord of the Rings on this list. It has numerous imitators, and has been a massive influence on the fantasy genre since it was published. But a good story is a good story, and these books also have truths to tell. After all the hero is not the warrior Aragon, or Gandalf, or the elves. The hero is a shy hobbit who leaves his bucolic existence for a dangerous mission. At its heart it’s a story about ordinary people faced with doing extraordinary things.

New Books

after last week’s mammoth post, this week’s is a short one featuring books based on other literature and characters:

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSweet Shadows, Tera Lynn Childs (336 pages) – Three teenage descendants of Medusa must figure out where their fate will take them. The warring factions among the gods of Olympus are coming for them, the creatures of the abyss are pushing into San Francisco, and the boys in their lives are hiding dangerous secrets. Gretchen has fought the monsters the longest, but teaching the girls the ropes is hard. Can she rely on Grace and Greer, or even trust herself to keep them safe? Greer has pressing social commitments and little time to train her newfound powers. But her second sight won’t leave her alone. Grace is worried about her brother, Thane, who has disappeared. His secrets might have to do with the heritage the triplets share. How can the girls embrace the shadows of their legacy?

First lines: “As I stare across Gretchen’s dining table at Grace, who is flipping through a binder about some ridiculously hideous monster straight out of mythology, I still can’t really fathom that there are two girls right her in this loft who look just like me. Same long, dark-blonde hair – although mine glistens with pricey highlights – and silver-grey eyes that have always been my most unique characteristic. Not any more.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Clockwork Scarab, Colleen Gleason (356 pages) – Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes never meant to get into the family business. But when you’re the sister of Bram and the niece of Sherlock, vampire hunting and mystery solving are in your blood. And when two society girls go missing, there’s no one more qualified to investigate. Now fierce Evaline and logical Mina must resolve their rivalry, navigate the advances of not just one but three mysterious gentlemen, and solve murder with only one clue: a strange Egyptian scarab. The stakes are high. If Stoker and Holmes don’t unravel why the belles of London society are in such danger, they’ll become the next victims.

First lines: “There are a limited number of excuses for a young, intelligent woman of seventeen to be traversing the fog-shrouded streets of London at midnight. A matter of protecting one’s life or preventing another’s death are two obvious ones. But as far as I knew, I was neither in danger for my life, nor was I about to forestall the death of another.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSplintered : a novel, A. G. Howard (371 pages) – Alyssa Gardner hears the thoughts of plants and animals. She hides her delusions for now, but she knows her fate: she will end up like her mother, in an institution. Madness has run in her family ever since her great-great-great-grandmother Alice Liddell told Lewis Carroll her strange dreams, inspiring his classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. But perhaps she’s not mad. And perhaps Carroll’s stories aren’t as whimsical as they first seem. To break the curse of insanity, Alyssa must go down the rabbit hole and right the wrongs of Wonderland, a place full of strange beings with dark agendas. Alyssa brings her real-world crush – the provocative Jeb – with her, but once her journey begins, she’s torn between his solidity and the enchanting, dangerous magic of Morpheus, her guide to Wonderland. But no one in Wonderland is who they seem to be – not even Alyssa herself…

First lines: “I’ve been collecting bugs since I was ten; it’s the only way I can stop their whispers. Sticking a pin through the gut of an insect shuts it up pretty quick. Some of my victims line the walls in shadow boxes, while others get sorted into mason jars and placed on a bookshelf for later use. Crickets, beetles, spiders … bees and butterflies. I’m not picky. Once they get chatty, they’re fair game.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAshes on the Waves, Mary Lindsey (373 pages) – Liam MacGregor is cursed. Haunted by the wails of fantastical Bean Sidhes and labeled a demon by the villagers of Dòchas, Liam has accepted that things will never get better for him—until a wealthy heiress named Annabel Leighton arrives on the island and Liam’s fate is changed forever. With Anna, Liam finally finds the happiness he has always been denied; but, the violent, mythical Otherworlders, who inhabit the island and the sea around it, have other plans. They make awager on the couple’s love, testing its strength through a series of cruel obstacles. But the tragedies draw Liam and Anna even closer. Frustrated, the creatures put the couple through one last trial—and this time it’s not only their love that’s in danger of being destroyed. Based on Edgar Allan Poe’s chilling poem, “Annabel Lee,” Mary Lindsey creates a frighteningly beautiful gothic novel that glorifies the power of true love.

First lines: “She looked like something out of a dream . . . or a nightmare. Simultaneously, so terrible and beautiful, it made me ache. Waves pounded the jetty, shooting geysers of frigid salt water into the air as she leaned into the wind, her long hair whipping in all directions.”

Catching Fire

I think ya’ll know what movie started this week – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Woop!! I can’t wait to see it this weekend. If you want to relive a little of the magic of the first movie before you see the next one, get it here!!

The hunger games [videorecording] / Lionsgate presents a Color Force/Lionsgate production ; a Gary Ross film.
Set in a future where the Capitol selects a boy and girl from the twelve districts to fight to the death on live television, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her younger sister’s place for the latest match.

This week has seen Jennifer Lawrence in a range of luxe get ups as she attends a billion photo calls and premieres of her latest flick – let’s revel in some of the fabulousness:


All photos from fashiongonerogue

So many dresses in just a few days… lucky girl!

Amazon’s Best of 2013

Amazon.com has announced that their best YA book of this year was Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell: well done that book! Their top 10 (not in favourite order) is:

Allegiant, Veronica Roth

Champion, Marie Lu

Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell

Steelheart, Brandon Sanderson

Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell

The 5th Wave, Rick Yancey

The Lord of Opium, Nancy Farmer

Scarlet, Marissa Meyer

Requiem, Lauren Oliver

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, Holly Black

We’ve got lots of these on book on CD also, if you prefer listening (we find audiobooks are great if you run, bike, have insomnia, or do anything for a long time that isn’t already reading).

Tremendous Trilogies, Volume Ten.

Since this is the third dystopian themed Tremendous Trilogy in a row, let us tell you a little bit about the genre. The word dystopia comes from Ancient Greek and translates to “bad” or “hard”. Dystopian settings are often characterized by dehumanization, totalitarian governments, environmental disaster, or other characteristics associated with a cataclysmic (what an excellent word, thanks Wikipedia) decline in society. More often than not, this translates into some form of social commentary as the cataclysmic decline has been caused by a current day (for us, the reader) socio-political issue. So something like pollution, poverty, societal collapse, political repression, or totalitarianism for example, has lead to said cataclysmic decline. There’s often a good old fashioned good vs evil storyline; the evil component usually being the one in power which leads to a battle or revolution at some point. There might be some characters with extraordinary abilities thrown in and of course, a love story. Of course that’s just a quick overview of some of the tropes of the dystopian genre, we’re sure we’ve missed something.

And after all that learning, let us reward you with the most excellently named Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness. Bonus! All the books have wonderful titles as well (in our humble opinion anyway).

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Knife of Never Letting Go

Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee – whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not – stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden. But it’s a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives. But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear your every thought?

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Ask and the Answer

We were in the square, in the square where I’d run, holding her, carrying her, telling her to stay alive, stay alive till we got safe, till we got to Haven so I could save her – But there weren’t no safety, no safety at all, there was just him and his men… Fleeing before a relentless army, Todd has carried a desperately wounded Viola right into the hands of their worst enemy, Mayor Prentiss. Immediately separated from Viola and imprisoned, Todd is forced to learn the ways of the Mayor’s new order. But what secrets are hiding just outside of town? And where is Viola? Is she even still alive? And who are the mysterious Answer? And then, one day, the bombs begin to explode…

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMonsters of Men

“War,” says the Mayor. “At last.” Three armies march on New Prentisstown, each one intent on destroying the others. Todd and Viola are caught in the middle, with no chance of escape. As the battles commence, how can they hope to stop the fighting? How can there ever be peace when they’re so hopelessly outnumbered? And if war makes monsters of men, what terrible choices await? But then a third voice breaks into the battle, one bent on revenge.

New Books

and now for something completely different:

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAll the Truth That’s in Me, Julie Berry (266 pages) – After two years missing, Judith returns home – her tongue cut out, her best friend dead. No one knows what has happened and Judith cannot speak of it. All she can do is silently pour out her feelings to the boy who has owned her heart for as long as she can remember: Lucas. In a voice filled with hurt, yearning, hope and love, this is Judith’s story.

First lines: “You didn’t come. I waited all evening in the willow tree, with gnats buzzing in my face and sap sticking in my hair, watching for you to return from town.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsZac & Mia, A. J. Betts (307 pages) – The last person Zac expects in the room next door is a girl like Mia, angry and feisty with questionable taste in music. In the real world, he wouldn’t—couldn’t—be friends with her. In hospital different rules apply, and what begins as a knock on the wall leads to a note… then a friendship neither of them sees coming. You need courage to be in hospital; different courage to be back in the real world. In one of these worlds Zac needs Mia. And in the other Mia needs Zac. Or maybe they both need each other, always.

First lines: “A newbie arrives next door. From this side of the wall I hear the shuffle of feet, unsure of where to stand. I hear Nina going through the arrival instructions in that buoyoant air-hostess way, as if this ‘flight’ will go smoothly, no need to pull the Emergency Exit lever. Just relax and enjoy the service. Nina has the kind of voice you believe.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLeap of Faith, Jamie Blair (240 pages) – Leah Kurtz has finally found a place to call home, a town where she and baby Addy can live in peace, far from the drug-infested place she grew up. Chris is one of the best parts of her new life, the only person who’s ever made her feel safe. And now that she’s found him, there’s no way she can tell the truth: Her real name is Faith, not Leah. She’s seventeen, not nineteen. And the baby isn’t hers; Faith kidnapped her. Faith’s history catches up with her when a cop starts asking questions and Chris’s aunt spots her picture in the newspaper. She knows it’s time to run again, but if Faith leaves, she’ll lose Chris. If Chris is in love with a lie, though, did Faith ever really have him in the first place?

First lines: “The bangbangbanging of Mom’s headboard against my wall needs to stop before my head explodes. I’m exhausted and wish he’d just leave so I can sleep. Of course Mom’s bed has to be shoved right up against the other side of my wall. I roll my eyes and take a deep breath, pulling the covers up higher around my neck.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Ghost Bride, Yangsze Choo (384 pages) – In 1890s Malaya, Li Lan, the daughter of a genteel but bankrupt family, has few prospects. But fate intervenes when she receives an unusual proposal from the wealthy and powerful Lim family. They want her to become a ghost bride for the family’s only son, who recently died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, a traditional ghost marriage is used to placate a restless spirit. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a home for the rest of her days, but at a terrible price. After an ominous visit to the opulent Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also by her desire for the Lim’s handsome new heir, Tian Bai. Night after night, she is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities, paper funeral offerings, vengeful spirits and monstrous bureaucracy—including the mysterious Er Lang, a charming but unpredictable guardian spirit. Li Lan must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets—and the truth about her own family—before she is trapped in this ghostly world forever.

First lines: “One evening, my father asked me whether I would like to become a ghost bride. ‘Asked’ is perhaps not the right word. We were in his study. I was leafing through a newspaper, my father lying on his rattan daybed. It was very hot and still. The oil lamp was lit and moths fluttered through the humid air in lazy swirls. ‘What did you say?'”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBracelet of Bones, Kevin Crossley-Holland (256 pages) – One morning, Solveig wakes to find her father, Halfdan, has gone. He has followed the young Viking warrior Harald Hardrada to Miklagard (Constantinople), where he is leader of the Empress’s guard. Solveig sets off in a tiny boat to find him. So begins a fierce journey of discovery and survival, where the young Viking girl will meet a ghost ship and befriend an English slave, shoot rapids, survive an arrow storm, and witness a living sacrifice. Will Solveig reach Miklagard? And will her father be there?

First lines: “‘Is this it?’ Solveig called out. No trees stood on the battlefield. Nothing but little scrubby, twisted black bushes. Without breaking his long, limping stride, Halfdan glanced over his shoulder. ‘You all right, girl?’ It’s all dead, thought Solveig. There’s nothing left but black fingers, black hands, thousands of them. Stiklestad. What can ever grow in this place again?”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSweet Peril, Wendy Higgins (371 pages) – Anna Whitt, the daughter of a guardian angel and a demon, promised herself she’d never do the work of her father—polluting souls. She’d been naive to make such a vow. She’d been naive about a lot of things. Haunted by demon whisperers, Anna does whatever she can to survive, even if it means embracing her dark side and earning an unwanted reputation as her school’s party girl. Her life has never looked more bleak. And all the while there’s Kaidan Rowe, son of the Duke of Lust, plaguing her heart and mind. When an unexpected lost message from the angels surfaces, Anna finds herself traveling the globe with Kopano, son of Wrath, in an attempt to gain support of fellow Nephilim and give them hope for the first time. It soon becomes clear that whatever freedoms Anna and the rest of the Neph are hoping to win will not be gained without a fight. Until then, Anna and Kaidan must put aside the issues between them, overcome the steamiest of temptations yet, and face the ultimate question: is loving someone worth risking their life?

First lines: “Unbeknownst to the Roman community, 666 earthbound demons were making use of the infamous Colosseum. Twelve of the fallen ones, the Dukes, were present in human form, while the others hovered as spirits, blotting celestial light from the night sky. Rahab, the Duke of Pride, took his place in the center, exhilarated by the attention his presence commanded.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Messengers, Edward Hogan (214 pages) – When fifteen-year-old Frances is sent down to the coast to Helmstown, to live with her aunt, uncle and cousin, she meets and befriends Peter Kennedy, a somewhat tramp-like character who lives in a beach hut along the seafront. As soon as they meet, Peter recognizes that Frances is a messenger, just like him. As messengers, they experience black-outs, and when they come round, they have the ability to draw, in minute detail, the scene of an accident. Although Frances can’t change the past, she realises that she can change the future, at least for a chosen few.

First lines: “We’re drawn to each other, us messengers. We must be. I remember the first time I saw him, down by the beach huts. There was something about him. The look of him. How could I not go over? You might even say it was fate, but I don’t believe in that.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Neptune Project, Polly Holyoke (340 pages) – Nere has never understood why she feels so much more comfortable and confident swimming with the dolphins that her mother studies than hanging out with her classmates on land, but everything falls into place when Nere learns that she is one of a group of kids who – unbeknownst to them – have been genetically altered to survive in the ocean. These products of “The Neptune Project” are given a mission to build a better future under the sea, safe from the dangers on land. But there are some very big problems: no one asked Nere if she wanted to be a science experiment; the other Neptune kids aren’t exactly the friendliest bunch; and in order to reach the safe haven of the Neptune colony, Nere and her fellow mutates must swim through hundreds of miles of dangerous waters, relying only on their wits, dolphins, and each other to evade terrifying undersea creatures and a government that will stop at nothing to capture the Neptune kids … dead or alive.

First lines: “I wake to an urgent tap at my window. My heart thudding, I sit bolt upright in bed. The night is hot and still. I push my sweaty hair away from my face and try to ignore the twist of fear in my gut. No one brings good news at this hour. I slip from my bed and peer cautiously through my window.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSYLO, D. J. MacHale (407 pages) – Fourteen-year-old Tucker Pierce prefers to fly under the radar. He’s used to navigating around summer tourists in his hometown on idyllic Pemberwick Island, Maine. He’s content to sit on the sidelines as a backup player on the high school football team. And though his best friend Quinn tells him to “go for it,” he’s too chicken to ask Tori Sleeper on a date. There’s always tomorrow, he figures. Then Pemberwick Island is invaded by a mysterious branch of the U.S. military called SYLO. And sitting on the sidelines is no longer an option for Tucker, because tomorrow may never come. It’s up to Tucker, Quinn, and Tori to uncover the truth about the singing aircraft that appears only at night—and the stranger named Feit who’s pushing a red crystal he calls the Ruby that brings unique powers to all who take it. Tucker and his friends must rescue not just Pemberwick Island, but the fate of the world.

First lines: “It was the perfect night for a football game. And for death. Not that the two have anything in common. When you hear the term “sudden death,” you normally don’t expect there to be an actual loss of life, sudden or otherwise, but there was nothing normal about that night.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDeath & Co., D.J. McCune (279 pages) – Adam Mortson is a Luman, one of the elite band of spirit guides who travel to the Hinterland to guide dead souls into the afterlife. And though Adam just wants to be a normal teenager – one who dates girls like Melissa, hangs out with his mates and avoids his homework – his role as a Luman is strictly non-negotiable. But as a hidden and dangerous power grows within him, Adam must make a terrible choice: to stand by and watch as lives are lost, or to disobey the rules of death … and risk everything.

First lines: “Nathanial Mortson stood in the darkness, hands thrust into the pockets of his camel-hair coat. In the physical world it was freezing, the road glittering with ice, but here in the Hinterland he couldn’t feel it. It was the middle of the night and he was tired. Usually he had company but on a job like this he preferred to work alone.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsStarglass, Phoebe North (448 pages) – Terra has never known anything but life aboard the Asherah, a city-within-a-spaceship that left Earth five hundred years ago in search of refuge. At sixteen, working a job that doesn’t interest her, and living with a grieving father who only notices her when he’s yelling, Terra is sure that there has to be more to life than what she’s got. But when she inadvertently witnesses the captain’s guard murdering an innocent man, Terra is suddenly thrust into the dark world beneath her ship’s idyllic surface. As she’s drawn into a secret rebellion determined to restore power to the people, Terra discovers that her choices may determine life or death for the people she cares most about. With mere months to go before landing on the long-promised planet, Terra has to make the decision of a lifetime–one that will determine the fate of her people.

First lines: “On the day of my mother’s funeral, we all wore white. My father said that dressing ourselves in the stiff, pale cloth would be a mitzvah. I ran the word over my tongue as I straightened a starched new shirt against my shoulders.

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHe Forgot to Say Goodbye, Benjamin Alire Sáenz (321 pages) – On the surface, Ramiro Lopez and Jake Upthegrove could not be more different. Ram is Mexican-America, living in “DizzyLand,” the poor side of El Paso. He’s struggling to keep his family together as his younger brother descends into a dangerous world of drugs and violence. Jake is a rich WASP with anger-management issues who can’t stand the falseness of his mother’s materialistic world. But as circumstances in both of their lives begin to spiral out of control, Jake and Ram turn to each other for comfort, friendship, and understanding. No one realizes what it’s like to know that all of your problems stem from one thing: that your father didn’t even care enough to say goodbye.

First lines: “My mom says I need to stop and think about things. I think about things all the effen time. Think and think and think. You know, it’s not like all that thinking has gotten me places.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSteelheart, Brandon Sanderson (384 pages) – Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills. Nobody fights the Epics… nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them. And David wants in. He wants Steelheart—the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning—and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience. He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

First lines: “I’ve seen Steelheart bleed. It happened ten years ago; I was eight. My father and I were at the First Union Bank on Adams Street. We used the old street names than, before the Annexation.”

book cover courrtesy of SyndeticsAshes of Twilight, Kassy Tayler (320 pages) – Wren MacAvoy works as a coal miner for a domed city that was constructed in the mid-nineteenth century to protect the royal blood line of England when astronomers spotted a comet on a collision course with Earth. Humanity would be saved by the most groundbreaking technology of the time. But after nearly 200 years of life beneath the dome, society has become complacent and the coal is running out. Plus there are those who wonder, is there life outside the dome or is the world still consumed by fire? When one of Wren’s friends escapes the confines of the dome, he is burned alive and put on display as a warning to those seeking to disrupt the dome’s way of life. But Alex’s final words are haunting. “The sky is blue.” What happens next is a whirlwind of adventure, romance, conspiracy and the struggle to stay alive in a world where nothing is as it seems. Wren unwittingly becomes a catalyst for a revolution that destroys the dome and the only way to survive might be to embrace what the entire society has feared their entire existence.

First lines: “The Bible teaches us that the heavens and earth were made by the one true God. I have heard these things all of my life but I dare not ask the questions that the lessons have created in my mind. I am certain I know quite a bit about the earth, as I spend most of my waking moments within its clanking iron bowels. The heavens, however, are a mystery to me as my world is hollow and my sky is made of glass.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCoda, Emma Trevayne (309 pages) – Deep in an abandoned basement, Anthem sings of truth and freedom with his illegal underground band. Yet on the surface and under watchful eyes, Anthem is unable to resist the call of the Corporation’s addictive, mind-altering music tracks, even as he knows they are used to control him and his fellow citizens. When tragedy strikes close to home, Anthem realizes that defying the Corp comes at a deadly price … and the stakes of preventing his brother and sister from being claimed by the government drug are worth every heart-pounding second. The key to the revolution might lie with the girl Anthem loves, but will he trust her enough to let her join the fight?

First lines: “I’m drawn toward the door. I can’t hear it yet, but I can feel it. A pulse, a heartbeat. The floor shakes. Inside, the cavernous, soundproof room is already packed, black and neon and flashing lights and stifling heat from the crush of bodies.”

Fashion eBooks

So, this morning I made a new discovery. We have some really good fashion reads on Overdrive, our eBook site!!

Don’t get me wrong, I am a massive fan of real ink and paper books. I enjoy the tactile quality of a real book and especially real fashion books, because they’re often so gorgeous with lushly printed images and beautifully set out headings and chapters. However, fashion eBooks are so incredibly handy, it’s hard not to love them too!! Perfect for when you can’t get to the library, or if you need a book to read on the go (and, tbh, some fashion books really aren’t a great size or shape (or weight!!) for carrying around with you).

Even better, you don’t specifically need an eReader to enjoy them. I’ve been reading a few on my phone, so even though the screen is obviously way bigger on an eReader, it’s totally fine without one! Just go to the Overdrive page on our website, search ‘fashion’ and check the results. There are a couple I have my eye on, and we’re adding to our eBook collection all the time. Enjoy?

Photo: Carrie at wishwishwish

Some upcoming new fiction

Living with Jackie Chan, Jo Knowles – Josh, from Jumping Off Swings, is living with the consequences of a rash “one time thing” with Ellie. He has moved away from his home town and now lives with his Jackie Chan-obsessed uncle. He makes friends with Stella, with whom he practices karate (maybe the Jackie Chan thing rubs off on him a little?), and slowly comes to grips with his past actions.

This is How I Find Her, Sarah Polsky – “Sophie Canon has just started her junior year when her mother tries to kill herself. Sophie has always lived her life in the shadow of her mother’s bipolar disorder, monitoring her medication, rushing home after school to check on her instead of spending time with friends, and keeping her mother’s diagnosis secret from everyone outside their family. But when the overdose lands Sophie’s mother in the hospital, Sophie no longer has to watch over her. She moves in with her aunt, uncle, and cousin, from whom she has been estranged for the past five years. Rolling her suitcase across town to her family’s house is easy. What’s harder is figuring out how to build her own life.” (goodreads.com)

Hero, Alethea Kontis – this is the sequel to Enchanted.  Saturday Woodcutter is a bit of a tomboy; she’d rather chop wood than go to the ball, plus she’s the only one in the Woodcutter family who has no magical ability – until she, quite randomly, conjures an ocean. As you do, she sets sail on a pirate ship (on her newly conjured ocean), only to find herself kidnapped by the mountain witch. Is she powerful enough to escape? Also, can she cope with a bit of romance?

Zero Fade, Chris L Terry – “Zero Fade chronicles eight days in the life of inner-city Richmond, Virginia teen Kevin Phifer as he deals with wack hair-cuts, bullies, last-year fly gear, his uncle Paul coming out as gay, and being grounded.” (goodreads.com) Set in the 1990s, this book has got some great reviews.

Graphic Novels in the Real World

Superheroes and fantastical worlds aren’t the only things that are depicted in graphic novels. They’re also a great way to explore the ‘harder’ issues that real life throws up at us. Sometimes they’re a realistic, straightforward depiction of events and problems; other times they’re more allegorical. Some inspiring, some heart-rending, all of them well worth reading. Here are Nicola’s picks for the best graphic novels set in the real world:

When the Wind Blows, Raymond Briggs

Last year this graphic novel celebrated its twentieth birthday. Depicting an elderly couple’s response to a nuclear attack, it manages to feel as relevant today as it did when it was published, during the tail end of the Cold War. It is utterly heartbreaking, and probably is one of the most affecting graphic novels ever produced. Hilda and Jim seem not to comprehend the situation; they’re perfect stand-ins for ordinary people caught in events out of their control.

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Arrival, Shaun Tan

There’s no dialogue in The Arrival, but Shaun Tan’s art more than carries the story. A man flees his homeland, leaving his wife and child behind. He struggles to adjust in a new place, eventually finding happiness and a sort of peace. This isn’t a land you’ve ever seen before; buildings twist into strange shapes and oddly shaped creatures live as pets and pests in a forest of a city. This doesn’t detract from the central theme, however. In a strange way, by removing it from a recognisable setting, Tan makes the story more universal.

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Resistance series, Carla Jablonski

If your homeland was invaded and occupied, what would you do? Would you fight for your country? Or would you say nothing and try to carry on? This series tells of a group of siblings growing up in a small town during the Nazi Occupation of France. They struggle to answer these questions, as the lines between enemy and friend become ever more complicated. There are three books in this series; Resistance, Defiance and Victory.

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHeart Transplant, Andrew H. Vachss

Sean is one of those kids who’s fallen through the cracks. He lives with his alcoholic mother and her dead-beat boyfriend, until their murder, which threatens to isolate him more. He finds a home with his mother’s boyfriend’s father “Pop”, and learns to defend himself against bullies. Right at the beginning of this graphic novel, Sean rejects the Hollywood outsider-gains-respect narrative. He doesn’t finish off the book being any more popular than he is. That’s not what this book is about. Instead, Pop helps him learn the hard lessons about being a man, and not letting the darkness inside you destroy your future.

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFax from Sarajevo : a story of survival, Joe Kubert

The siege of Sarajevo lasted from 1992 to 1996, making it one of the longest sieges in the history of modern warfare. Thousands were killed in the siege, which part of the Bosnian war. This book is based off faxes a man called Ervin Rustemagic sent his friends, which detail the brutal conditions his family have to endure. Starvation, danger from snipers and mortar fire destroy any chance of a normal life for the citizens of Sarajevo. This is a fascinating book about modern conflict.

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