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Your reading guide on how NOT to get murdered

This is a blog post NOT for the faint hearted. This is NOT a blog post full of hearts, flowers and romantic embellishments.  What you’re about to read is raw, gritty, deadly, but could very well save your life and may help you avoid getting murdered. This is a post for teens addicted to true crime stories/podcasts and interested in fiction, on ‘how NOT to get murdered,’  inspired by A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson.

Here are some basic tips on how NOT to get murdered?

  • Read the following books as cautionary tales that may prompt you to follow the advice above.

image courtesy of syndeticsA good girl’s guide to murder.

“The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it. But having grown up in the small town that was consumed by the murder, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final-year project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth?” (Catalogue). Also available as an

image courtesy of syndeticsGood girl, bad blood.

“Pip Fitz-Amobi is not a detective anymore. Her true crime podcast about the murder case she solved last year has gone viral. Yet Pip insists her investigating days are behind her. But she will have to back on her word when some close to her goes missing and the police can’t do anything about it.” Also available as an eAudiobook.

image courtesy of syndeticsThey wish they were us.

The lives of Jill Newman and her friends look perfect, but nothing is as it seems. Jill’s best friend, the brilliant, dazzling Shaila, was killed by her boyfriend, but suddenly Jill starts getting texts proclaiming his innocence. But digging deeper could mean putting her friendships, and her future, in jeopardy.

image courtesy of syndeticsThe murder game.

“Luke Chase’s roommate Oscar convinces him to sneak out of their boarding school dorm to meet up with a couple of girls in the forest, have a good time, and no one will ever know. When the wife of one of their teachers is found dead in the woods the next morning, the group decides to solve the murder on their own. Will they be able to catch the killer before the killer catches them? — adapted from back cover.” (Catalogue). Also available as an eBook.

image courtesy of syndeticsWhite rabbit, red wolf.

“A gripping and gloriously treacherous thriller without guide ropes or safety nets. Leave all certainties by the door.” Frances Hardinge A taut thriller about murder, maths and the mind. Peter Blankman is afraid of everything but must confront truly unimaginable terror when his mother is attacked. Seventeen-year-old Peter Blankman is a maths prodigy. He also suffers from severe panic attacks. Afraid of everything, he finds solace in the orderly and logical world of mathematics and in the love of his family: his scientist mum and his tough twin sister Bel, as well as Ingrid, his only friend. However, when his mother is found stabbed before an award ceremony and his sister is nowhere to be found, Pete is dragged into a world of espionage and violence where state and family secrets intertwine. Armed only with his extraordinary analytical skills, Peter may just discover that his biggest weakness is his greatest strength.” (Catalogue).

image courtesy of syndeticsThe boyband murder mystery.

“When frontman Frankie is arrested on suspicion of murdering his oldest friend Evan, Harri feels like her world’s about to fall apart. But quickly she realises that she – and all the other Half Light superfans out there – know and understand much more about these boys than any detective ever could. Now she’s rallying a fangirl army to prove Frankie’s innocence – and to show the world that you should never underestimate a teenage girl with a passion.” (Catalogue).

image courtesy of syndeticsPride and premeditation.

“Perfect for fans of the Lady Janies and Stalking Jack the Ripper, the first book in the Jane Austen Murder Mysteries series is a clever retelling of Pride and Prejudice that reimagines the iconic settings, characters, and romances in a thrilling and high-stakes whodunit. When a scandalous murder shocks London high society, seventeen-year-old aspiring lawyer Lizzie Bennet seizes the opportunity to prove herself, despite the interference of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, the stern young heir to the prestigious firm Pemberley Associates. Convinced the authorities have imprisoned the wrong person, Lizzie vows to solve the murder on her own. But as the case-and her feelings for Darcy-become more complicated, Lizzie discovers that her dream job could make her happy, but it might also get her killed.” (Catalogue). Also available as an eBook and an eAudiobook. 

image courtesy of syndetics#MurderTrending.

“In the near future, citizens can enjoy watching the executions of society’s most infamous convicted felons, streaming live on The Postman app from the prison island Alcatraz 2.0. Dee Guerrera wakes up in a haze, lying on the ground of a dimly lit warehouse, about to be the next victim of the app, found guilty of murdering her stepsister. But Dee refuses to roll over and die for a heinous crime she didn’t commit. Her newly formed posse, the Death Row Breakfast Club, needs to prove she’s innocent before she ends up murdered for the world to see. That’s if The Postman’s cast of executioners don’t kill them off one by one, first.” — Adapted from jacket. Available as an eBook.

image courtesy of syndetics#MurderFunding.

“WELCOME TO WHO WANTS TO BE A PAINIAC?, the latest reality TV show on the hunt for the next big-hit serial killer. But don’t worry-no one is actually going to murder anyone, as real as the fake gore and pretend murder may appear . . . uh, right? Seventeen-year-old Becca Martinello is about to find out. When her perfectly normal soccer mom dies in a car crash, a strange girl named Stef appears and lets Becca know that her deceased mom was none other than one of Alcatraz 2.0’s most popular serial killers-Molly Mauler. Soon, Becca ends up on Who Wants to Be a Painiac? to learn the truth about her mom’s connection to Molly Mauler, but things turn sinister when people are murdered IRL. Will Becca uncover dark secrets and make it out of the deadly reality show alive? Or will she get cut?” (Catalogue).

image courtesy of syndeticsTwo can keep a secret.

“The New York Times bestselling author of One of Us Is Lying is back with an all-new, page-turning mystery perfect for fans of Riverdale! Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery’s never been there, but she’s heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows. The town is picture-perfect, but it’s hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone has declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing. Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she’s in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous–and most people aren’t good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it’s safest to keep your secrets to yourself.” (Catalogue).

For more reading guides on how NOT to get murdered, click here.

 

“The most misunderstood of English villains”: Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot

image courtesy of wikipedia.org

This black-and-white drawing of Guy Fawkes was actually created over 200 years after his death by illustrator George Cruikshank! Image: Public Domain

Prepare to blow up… your mind with a veritable treasure trove of information about a gunpowder plot gone wrong. Guy Fawkes Day or Bonfire Night is on this horizon this very evening, November 5th, as an annual celebration with bonfires and fireworks in remembrance of the failed plot to kill the British Government and King James VI and I.

Why do we celebrate Guy Fawkes? Guy Fawkes and a group of men were part of a plot to blow up British Parliament to kill the King of England on the 5th of November. However, the government found out about the plot before the attack could take place. The government arrested Guy Fawkes and his conspirators, who were then convicted of treason. To celebrate the survival of the Parliament, they announced a national day, now known as Guy Fawkes Day. The first celebration was held on November 5, 1606. Today, Guy Fawkes Day is celebrated with feasts, bonfires, and fireworks.

For more information, check out:

If you’d like to read more about the history and alternative stories about Guy Fawkes,  here’s a selection of books at the library:

image courtesy of syndeticsThe Gunpowder Plot : terror in Shakespeare’s England.

“The Gunpowder Plot is perhaps the most famous and well-documented event in British Early Modern History. This means the story can be told through original dialogue recorded at the time to a greater extent than any other of the period. This expert retelling of the Gunpowder Plot brings seventeenth-century voices fresh to the page. It shows the complex motivations of the principal figures involved, including the plotters themselves, and tells the story of the plot without the benefit of hindsight.  Today, ‘Guido Fawkes’ has become the face of political disaffection, thanks to his popularity as a mask for protestors. And in a modern world of religious terrorism, this books lets us understand what drove the participants in British history’s biggest home-grown plot.”(Catalogue).

image courtesy of syndeticsPity for the Guy : a biography of Guy Fawkes.

“The first fully-rounded portrait of the man behind the Gunpowder Plot for hundreds of years Guy Fawkes has been portrayed as perhaps too extreme a figure — a rabid, bloodthirsty Catholic who not only tried to bomb British Parliament but threatened the English way of life. This biography reveals that he was much more than an evil, shadowy conspirator with an axe to grind. John Paul Davis delves into the evidence and makes a convincing case for new thinking on one of English history’s greatest enigmas. Not only is the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 thrillingly retold, but Guy Fawkes can now be seen as a multi-faceted figure — husband, soldier, lover, adventurer, spy, and possibly the most misunderstood of English villains.” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsThe Gunpowder Plot : terror & faith in 1605.

“A bestselling historian’s account of the Gunpowder Plot – ‘History as it should be written’ – Roy Strong.” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsRemember, remember the fifth of November : Guy Fawkes and the gunpowder plot.

“Guy Fawkes is one of the most celebrated figures in English history – but how did a failed Catholic plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605 inspire a religious festival, anti-Catholic riots, political protests, novels and pantomimes, and a 60 million annual spend on fireworks?” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsFawkes.

“Thomas Fawkes is turning to stone, and the only cure to the Stone Plague is to join his father’s plot to assassinate the king of England.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Tūhono: Get Yourself Some Inspiration!

It’s me again, with another of my periodic reminders that submissions for Tūhono 2021, our poetry journal for children and teens, are still open! You’ve got plenty of time to write something (in fact, we’ve just extended the deadline to the 14th of November!) and send it in to be published — and we will publish everything, as long as it meets our guidelines.

In case you’re searching for inspiration, we thought we would share with you some of our favourite poems written by teens for last year’s volume, Tūhono 2020. Read on to be wowed, inspired, jazzed, and just overall motivated to contribute your masterpiece to our new collection.

Note: Submissions to Tūhono 2021 have now closed. Thank you to everyone who submitted.

1. Passage of History — Deanna, age 15

The full text of this poem is written below.

Passage of History

Through a thread we all hold
Through this thread all is told
Down it’s passed young from old
This thread echoes war it carries the mourning of our ancestors
Here every language is told all our traditions we hold
In our hands
In our hands we hold precious memories other than ours
Although we encounter troubles we take it on as one
Because this thread connects us all
This thread is nothing more thing less
I feel blessed
To hold this thread for my passed grandparents
Thank you for this thread I will cherish
I swear an oath I won’t let it perish
Through this thread I’m proud to hold
Through this thread all our stories are told

— Deanna, age 15

2. [Untitled] — Nadezhda, age 17

The full text of the poem is written out below.

Pushing at risk teeth
Killing at risk teens

Your mother is wrong
Because all the time I knew you, you knew I would do it

I am only lying
But I am only lying to you
I am lying stretched out like a cat in the sun on the hood of your car
Black stockinged legs hanging over the edge

Kicking at the rain and chewing up the gravel
Right in front of you………………

There is blood in your teeth boy, and on my hands
What if I turn out to be something that makes your mother right?
You might just turn away
And walk into her outstretched arms

— Nadezhda, age 17

3. Included Components: Notes to My Past Self in the Form of a Contents List — Thyme, age 16

The full text of this poem is written out below.

Included Components: Notes to My Past Self in the Form of a Contents List

CONTENTS:

ASSORTED COMPONENTS: BLOOD, CONNECTORS, BONES, ETC.
Factory Settings: Standard. Possibility of inherited deficiency.
(blood tests aren’t as bad as you’d expect them to be, and you won’t regret getting them)

BRAIN, 1 COMPONENT
Factory Settings: Open to programming. Runs best when fully charged.
(you’ll want to be proud of this, and that’s fine, but remember it’s okay not to be the best. it’s okay to get lower marks. let yourself fail sometimes)

CHEST, RIBS, TORSO
Factory Settings: Standard breathing. Growth in chest area expected and normal.
(you won’t like how it changes. look after your ribs when you work this out)

ARMS, 1 PAIR
Factory Settings: Standard flexibility. Bones will remain malleable for approximately 12 years.
(you’ll break them three times, but don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt as much as you think. don’t worry about your first cast’s awful colour — you’ll have plenty more opportunities)

LEGS, 1 PAIR
Factory Settings: Average length, standard flexibility.
(you might not like these either, but understand there’s nothing wrong with them. standard sizing is frustrating but you will find yourself a pair of pants that fit properly)

EYES, 1 PAIR
Factory Settings: Slight nearsightedness, standard cone cells. Optic nerves also included.
(you’ll get them tested, and think that they’re okay, but don’t be afraid to test them again later. school is easier when you can read the board)

HANDS, 1 PAIR
Factory Settings: Standard flexibility, multiple fingers, opposable thumbs. Useful for grasping.
(they won’t always feel like they belong to you — they do. they’ll learn to create nice things, and sometimes not so nice things as well, but I promise to you the scratches will fade eventually)

— Thyme, age 16

4. Tap Tap Malu — Katie, age 15

The full text of this poem is written out below.

Tap Tap Malu

Tap, Tap
ink in blood out
absorbing, blending
weaving together
responsibilities of a Samoan woman
in Samoan society

Tap, Tap
ink in blood out
the bittersweet burn of the au
bleeding the ink to the surface
mapmaking the path to your ancestors

Tap, Tap
the sting on skin stretched tightly
a compact canvas freshly inked
a single colour pallette
sourced from the candlenut tree
a lama landscape
of oceans that will not wash away

Tap, Tap
O le Gafa o le Tatau,
chants of two sisters
Taema ma Tilafaiga
who swam the vasa wide
with a song and ‘ato au and echoed chant
‘only women get tattooed, not men’
‘only women get tattooed, not men’

Tap, Tap
O le Gafa o le Tatau
chants of two sisters
Taema ma Tilafaiga
who dove the vasa deep
for a faisua near the shores of Falealupo
breaking the ocean’s surface,
gasping for air
an old chant was forgotten
a new chant echoed
‘only men get tattooed, not women’
‘only men get tattooed, not women’

Tap, Tap
Malu
Tap, tap thigh
Tap, tap hand
Tap, tap arm
Tap, tap back
Tap, tap feet
Tap, tap ankles
Tap, tap face
Tap, tap neck
Tap, tap, tap…….
When is it still a Malu?

— Katie, age 15

Suffrage and the White Camellia

Suffrage Day  is a special  day in New Zealand’s history. Sunday 19 September 2021 is Suffrage Day / White Camellia Day.

Why is Suffrage Day celebrated?

On the 19th of September 1893, New Zealand became the first nation in the world to grant women the right to vote. This year marks the 126 anniversary of women winning the right to vote in New Zealand. The white camellia was the symbol of the suffragists.

Did you know? November 28th 1893 was the day New Zealand women voted for first time.

What is Suffrage Day?

Suffrage Day provides an opportunity for people to celebrate New Zealand’s suffrage achievements and look for ways to benefit women.

How do we commemorate this day?

  • Wearing a white camellia. Why? These flowers were worn by people supporting women’s right to vote in New Zealand.
  • Wear a The Suffrage 125 symbolWhy? The symbol draws on historical colours and icons adopted by women’s suffrage petitioners and presents them in a contemporary form. 
    image courtesy of women.govt.nz

Where can I find information about the suffragettes and and Suffrage Day?

image courtesy of syndeticsHindsight : pivotal moments in New Zealand history.

Four pivotal events in New Zealands history, (Women’s suffrage, Springbok tour, Dawn raids  and Rainbow warrior), are examined through a variety of source materials and commentary that enlivens the event and describes its impact on our society and growth as a nation. Hindsight is a resource for all schools and libraries. These topics are linked to the social sciences and history syllabus Years 7-11. An authoritative and engaging text, with high visual appeal. Buyers will be given access to download resources from our website, that will be updated as required. (Catalogue).

image courtesy of syndeticsThe book of gutsy women : favourite stories of courage and resilience.

Hillary Rodham Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea, share the stories of the gutsy women who have inspired them–women with the courage to stand up to the status quo, ask hard questions, and get the job done. Ensuring the rights and opportunities of women and girls remains a big piece of the unfinished business of the twenty-first century. While there’s a lot of work to do, we know that throughout history and around the globe women have overcome the toughest resistance imaginable to win victories that have made progress possible for all of us. That is the achievement of each of the women in this book. So how did they do it? The answers are as unique as the women themselves. […] Edie Windsor, Diana Nyad, Rachel Carson, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Mary Beard, Wangari Maathai, Harriet Tubman, Malala Yousafzai — to us, they are all gutsy women — leaders with the courage to stand up to the status quo, ask hard questions, and get the job done. (Adapted from Catalogue). Also available as an eBook

image courtesy of syndeticsSuffragettes : the fight for votes for women.

‘Queen Victoria is most anxious to enlist everyone who can speak or write to join in checking this mad wicked folly of women’s rights, with all its attendant horrors, on which her poor sex is bent’. 1870. It was a bloody and dangerous war lasting several decades, won finally by sheer will and determination in 1928. Drawing on extracts from diaries, newspapers, letters, journals and books, Joyce Marlow has pieced together this inspiring, poignant and exciting history using the voices of the women themselves. Some of the people and events are well-known, but Marlow has gone beyond the obvious, particularly beyond London, to show us the ordinary women – middle and working-class, who had the breathtaking courage to stand up and be counted – or just as likely hectored, or pelted with eggs. These women were clever and determined, knew the power of humour and surprise and exhibited ‘unladylike’ passion and bravery. Joyce Marlow’s anthology is lively, comprehensive, surprising and triumphant.’ (Catalogue).

image courtesy of syndeticsHidden heroines : the forgotten suffragettes.

The story of the struggle for women’s suffrage is not just that of the Pankhursts and Emily Davison. Thousands of others were involved in peaceful protest–and sometimes more militant activity–and they includes women from all walks of life. This book presents the lives of 48 less well-known women who tirelessly campaigned for the vote, from all parts of Great Britain and Ireland, risking ridicule and condemnation from family and friends. They were the hidden heroines who paved the way for women to gain greater equality in Britain. (Catalogue).

image courtesy of syndeticsRise up, women! : the remarkable lives of the suffragettes.

“Between the death of Queen Victoria and the outbreak of the First World War, while the patriarchs of the Liberal and Tory parties vied for supremacy in parliament, the campaign for women’s suffrage was fought with great flair and imagination in the public arena. Led by Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters Christabel and Sylvia, the suffragettes and their actions would come to define protest movements for generations to come. From their marches on Parliament and 10 Downing Street, to the selling of their paper, Votes for Women, through to the more militant activities of the Women’s Social and Political Union, whose slogan ‘Deeds Not Words!’ resided over bombed pillar-boxes, acts of arson and the slashing of great works of art, the women who participated in the movement endured police brutality, assault, imprisonment and force-feeding, all in the relentless pursuit of one goal: the right to vote. A hundred years on, Diane Atkinson celebrates the lives of the women who answered the call to ‘Rise Up’; a richly diverse group that spanned the divides of class and country, women of all ages who were determined to fight for what had been so long denied. Actresses to mill-workers, teachers to doctors, seamstresses to scientists, clerks, boot-makers and sweated workers, Irish, Welsh, Scottish and English; a wealth of women’s lives are brought together for the first time, in this meticulously researched, vividly rendered and truly defining biography of a movement.”–Dust jacket cover. Also available as an eAudiobook.

Click here for more books about suffragettes.

New LGBTIQ+ Teen Reads on OverDrive

Look, I get it. Sometimes you just need someone to tell you what books to read. I understand that! There’s a lot of books out there — entirely too many to count — so the intrepid librarians behind our illustrious eBook collection on OverDrive and Libby have undertaken to sort these books into comprehensive, yet easily-digestible lists for your convenience. One such list in the Teen Reading Room is the LGBTIQ+ Teen Reads list, which has recently doubled in size thanks to the efforts of our mystical and talented library gremlins! Make sure to keep checking in as new lists are being worked on all the time.

LGBTIQ+ Teen Reads

This list pulls together a veritable panoply of the best of the best in LGBTIQ+ authors and titles for young adults — that’s you! Here are some of my current faves from this selection:

Overdrive cover We Contain Multitudes, Sarah Henstra (Audiobook)

This beautiful book, told as an epistolary story (through letters and diary entries) is a classic oppposites-attract romance set in a Minnesota high school. You may have to suspend your disbelief a little at the premise of this story (letter-writing pen pals in high school? In 2019? Sure, Jan), but give it some time. The characters are deftly drawn, the storytelling by turns cerebral and intensely emotional, and the language absolutely to die for. Plus it was my sister’s favourite read of 2019. Give it a whirl!

Overdrive cover Lizard Radio, Pat Schmatz (ebook)

I totally dig this oddball dystopian coming-of-age novel (with lizard-people aliens!) wrapped in layers of mysticism, cyber-tech, and explorations of gender identity. Kivali is a “bender,” a young person who doesn’t conform to the extremely rigid gender culture of the all-powerful Gov’s future society, sent to mandatory rewiring in a gruelling CropCamp with other nonconforming teens. From all quarters, Kivali is faced with the question — who are you? — a question she refuses to take at face value, and challenges in different ways throughout the book. A must-read for nonbinary teens everywhere!

Overdrive cover My Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen, David Clawson (ebook)

This book is a super sweet modern fairytale — a kind of Cinderella for the modern sensibility. It has its moments of darkness, sure, and like many of the mainstays of queer literature some of its musings on issues of sexuality, family, money and stability, and self-doubt will hit home a little too squarely for some. But where My Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen really shines, for me, is in its lighter moments — how a random encounter with a drag queen can sweep joy into your world; how getting swept off your feet by sudden, unexpected romance can feel easier and lighter than breathing. This book is a celebration of all things glitter and warmth, and it invites you to the party every time.

Overdrive cover The Full Spectrum, David Levithan (ebook)

This is a Very Cool and Most Timely collection of poems, essays, and stories written by young adults and teens from across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. The writings cover a massive range of topics — coming out, dealing with family (supportive and not so much), navigating friendships that suddenly seem to have taken on a new dynamic, questions of faith and identity, and much more. Plus it’s all been pulled together by none other than the legendary David Levithan, and rad queer poet Billy Merrell, whose 2017 novel Vanilla is also a Must Read for fans of poetry and queerness.

Overdrive cover You Asked for Perfect, Laura Silverman (ebook)

Ya okay so this book is just painfully, beautifully relatable on so many levels. Perfectionist attitude towards school keeping you down in terms of life? Check. So worried about the future that you’re losing your grip on what’s happening right now? Check. Queer and stressed? Yep, that’s one big ol’ checkeroon. But don’t worry friends, all is not lost, because books like this are here to save the day! As the wonderful Bill Konigsberg puts it in his back-cover review, “[the book] hit me straight in the heart.”

Overdrive cover Finding Nevo, Nevo Zisin (ebook)

This powerful autobiography should be a required read for anybody to whom questions of identity are important. I can’t put it any better than the OverDrive description, so let me quote from it: “Meet Nevo: girl, boy, he she, him, her, they, them, daughter, son, teacher, student, friend, gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgender, homosexual, Jew, dyke, masculine, feminine, androgynous, queer. Nevo was not born in the wrong body. Nevo just wants everyone to catch up with all that Nevo is.” Read it now!

Overdrive cover The Rest of Us Just Live Here, Patrick Ness (ebook)

Patrick Ness’s trademark poetic and slightly oblique style is really brought to bear in this sci-fi deconstruction to end all sci-fi deconstructions. What if something remarkable and improbable is happening in your town (dark and mystical forces colliding; people’s family members disappearing in the woods; extra-terrestrial beings descending from the Great Beyond to wreak terror and destruction, only to be stopped at the last minute by an ordinary teen who just happens to be the only one with the power to stand up to what may or may not be the gods of old made manifest in this realm), but you’re not the Chosen One? You’re just a background character (in most books like this, you’d be among the first to go, possibly before we even got to hear your tragic backstory) and you’d really like it to stay that way. You’re not trying to save the world, you’re just trying to make it through the day without embarrassing yourself too much. This book’s queerness is part of its fabric without being the main focus — you should read it anyway, because it’s Just That Good, Folks.

Overdrive cover The Falling in Love Montage, Ciara Smyth (ebook)

This novel balances tongue-in-cheek witticisms with clear-eyed sincerity in an absolutely gorgeous way. Saoirse, 17, dealing with many issues in her life beyond her recent breakup with her ex, Hannah, meets Ruby, one of the most instantly loveable characters of any in books on this list. Ruby believes in true love, you see, and invites Saoirse to make a rom-com out of their lives together, complete with long, meaningful glances on Ferris wheels, ‘spontaneous’ skinny dipping late at night, and yes, a falling-in-love-montage just like in the movies. Not that the book is all bubbles and soft lens filters, but definitely one to curl up with under the covers, wearing out your face from all the smiling.

Overdrive cover Rainbow Revolutionaries, Sarah Prager (ebook)

The LGBTIQ+ Teen Reads curated list doesn’t just include fiction, but a great amount of nonfiction as well. This is a compelling collection of autobiographies covering the lives and times of 50 very rad and very revolutionary queer people spanning continents and centuries, who have left some indelible mark on culture, society, and what-it-means-to-be-queer-ness at some point in their lives. The people discussed range from the super well-known (the Frida Kahlos, Alan Turings, and Harvey Milks of this world) to the less well-known, at least in Western pop culture (Maryam Molkara, Nzinga, Al-Hakam II, and Tshepo Ricki Kgositau, to name a few), all  accompanied by Sarah Papworth’s striking and energising art and Sarah Prager’s concise and, at times, searing descriptions. 

Overdrive cover Are You Listening?, Tillie Walden (ebook)

I had to end this selection with one of my absolute favourite reads in recent months — Tillie Walden’s atmospheric, surreal, breathtaking ride of a graphic novel in Are You Listening? I don’t want to spoil too much of the story, but prepare yourself for a real emotional rollercoaster, and one of the most arresting and most genuine depictions of a moment of real human connection that I can remember seeing in a book (or anywhere else, for that matter). I read this one in a single sitting, oblivious to the world around me, and to be honest I can’t imagine anyone putting it down before the end. Do yourself a favour and pick this one up as soon as you can — you definitely won’t regret it.

Tūhono: It Lives!

Poets, readers, fellow champions of the written and spoken word — hark, and listen well. The day has finally come — Tūhono, our poetry journal for young Wellingtonians, has officially been released into the world as of the 11th of January 2021. And what a world it has arrived into — civil and political unrest overseas, the spectre of a global pandemic still haunting our every step; and yet, sunshine over the hitherto stormy seas of our fair town. Tūhono, I think, captures all of that and more. Read it now on OverDrive and Libby.

We are having physical copies printed as well, so soon you’ll be able to find Tūhono 2020 on the shelf at your local public or school library. We will also be giving two copies to the National Library of New Zealand, where they will be preserved for the rest of time (the legal term is ‘in perpetuity‘) as part of the cultural heritage of this country. It’s big deal, yo.

A two-page spread from Tūhono, featuring work by Jasmine (16) and Lily (11).

As we say in the business, this is The Good Stuff.

There are some very important and cool people whom I would like to thank for their input — Stephanie Poulopoulos (my partner-in-crime, and the amazing librarian who buys all of the kids’ and teens’ books for our collection), Ligia Horta (who designed the book — what an amazing talent she is!), Monty Masseurs (who helped get everything set up online), Bridget Jennings (who wrote the catalogue record for the book, making sure you can actually find it online), and Celeste Mackintosh (who helped organise the online submissions throughout the month of November 2020). They are all very awesome librarians and we should all pay homage to their greatness and humility.

Friends, in this life, no one is 'just' a librarian.

Go forth and read! You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and maybe — just maybe — you’ll feel connected with everyone else who put something of themselves into this incredible book.

Rick Riordan Presents… Some Seriously Good Stories

If you’re a fan of the Percy Jackson universe, or any one of Rick Riordan’s intertwining demi-god fantasy worlds, you’ll know that what he specialises in is taking a mythology (Greek, Roman, Norse, Egyptian…) and putting it in the contemporary world. Cue heroes, gods, teens with powers and some excellent action sequences. He’s a well known writer and he’s written a lot. A whole lot, I just Googled it and it’s over 40 books at least, yikes.

Here’s something I just found out about him: he is also involved in Rick Riordan Presents which is a publishing project under the Disney-Hyperion umbrella. These books involve the mythologies (in a broad sense) of a range of underrepresented cultures and backgrounds and are written by authors with the cultures and backgrounds they are writing about. It is an amazing way for Riordan to use his platform to get voices, who might otherwise be unheard, into the mainstream.  As his website says: it’s about letting people tell their own stories. Riordan acts as an editor for these works but they are entirely the property of and ideas of each individual author. How cool would it be to be a young/up-and-coming author and have your work picked up by Riordan?!

In fact the Korean NZ author Graci Kim is having a book published through Rick Riordan Presents next year that centres on a clan of Korean-American witches living in LA!  This will be Kim’s debut novel (first book). It sounds amazing, read the blurb here so you can get all hyped about it before it comes out next year in May.

A few things about the Rick Riordan Presents books: NO they are not set in the Percy Jackson world. YES they feature mythology and action in the same way that Riordan’s books do!

Rick Riordan reckons you’ll like them and so do I. The library has many of these books available in hard copy and also some online from one of our book borrowing apps called OverDrive.

Dragon Pearl / Lee, Yoon Ha
“A sci-fi adventure about a girl who stows away on a battle cruiser to solve the mystery of her missing brother. Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents Yoon Ha Lee’s space opera about thirteen-year-old Min, who comes from a long line of fox spirits.
But you’d never know it by looking at her. To keep the family safe, Min’s mother insists that none of them use any fox-magic, such as Charm or shape-shifting. They must appear human at all times.
Min feels hemmed in by the household rules and resents the endless chores, the cousins who crowd her, and the aunties who judge her. She would like nothing more than to escape Jinju, her neglected, dust-ridden, and impoverished planet. She’s counting the days until she can follow her older brother, Jun, into the Space Forces and see more of the Thousand Worlds.
When word arrives that Jun is suspected of leaving his post to go in search of the Dragon Pearl, Min knows that something is wrong. Jun would never desert his battle cruiser, even for a mystical object rumored to have tremendous power. She decides to run away to find him and clear his name.
Min’s quest will have her meeting gamblers, pirates, and vengeful ghosts. It will involve deception, lies, and sabotage. She will be forced to use more fox-magic than ever before, and to rely on all of her cleverness and bravery. The outcome may not be what she had hoped, but it has the potential to exceed her wildest dreams.
This sci-fi adventure with the underpinnings of Korean mythology will transport you to a world far beyond your imagination.” (Catalogue)

The storm runner / Cervantes, Jennifer
“A contemporary adventure based on Maya mythology from Rick Riordan Presents! Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents J.C. Cervantes’ contemporary adventure based on Maya mythology.
Zane has always enjoyed exploring the dormant volcano near his home in New Mexico, even though hiking it is challenging. He’d much rather hang out there with his dog, Rosie, than go to middle school, where kids call him Sir Limps a Lot, McGimpster, or Uno–for his one good leg.
What Zane doesn’t know is that the volcano is a gateway to another world and he is at the center of a powerful prophecy. A new girl at school, Brooks, informs him that he’s destined to release an evil god from the ancient Maya relic he is imprisoned in–unless she can find and remove it first.
Together they return to the volcano, where all kinds of crazy happens. Brooks turns into a hawk, a demon attacks them in a cave, and Rosie gives her all while trying to protect Zane.
When Zane decides to save his dog no matter the cost, he is thrust into an adventure full of surprising discoveries, dangerous secrets, and an all-out war between the gods, one of whom happens to be his father. To survive, Zane will have to become the Storm Runner. But how can he run when he can’t even walk well without a cane?” (Catalogue)

Aru Shah and the song of death / Chokshi, Roshani
Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents best-selling author Roshani Chokshi and her sequel to Aru Shah and the End of Time.
Aru is only just getting the hang of this whole Pandava thing when the Otherworld goes into full panic mode. The god of love’s bow and arrow have gone missing, and the thief isn’t playing Cupid. Instead, they’re turning people into heartless fighting-machine zombies.
If that weren’t bad enough, somehow Aru gets framed as the thief. If she doesn’t find the arrow by the next full moon, she’ll be kicked out of the Otherworld. For good.
But, for better or worse, she won’t be going it alone. Along with her soul-sister, Mini, Aru will team up with Brynne, an ultra-strong girl who knows more than she lets on, and Aiden, the boy who lives across the street and is also hiding plenty of secrets. Together they’ll battle demons, travel through a glittering and dangerous serpent realm, and discover that their enemy isn’t at all who they expected.” (Catalogue)

New Simultaneous Collections on OverDrive!

We heard a rumour that you guys might quite like books. We also like books. So, we’ve created a new collection of always-available eBooks and audiobooks for you to enjoy any time, anywhere. Check out the Teen Book Club Reads section on OverDrive or Libby for the full list, but for now, here are some of our faves:

Overdrive cover Two Boys Kissing, David Levithan (ebook)
{LGBTQ+, romance, slice-of-life}
Two Boys Kissing is a cornerstone work of queer YA literature. Told from the perspectives of four boys “under the watchful eyes of a Greek chorus of a generation of men lost to AIDS,” this book explores questions of identity and emotion, and the often intimate connections between history and the personal. While you’re drying your eyes and restoring your breathing patterns to normal following this essential book, check out our LGBTQIA+ Fiction booklist for your next literary fix.

Overdrive cover Aspiring, Damien Wilkins (ebook)
{NZ author, small town, coming-of-age}
We’ve already talked about our enduring love for this book, which is a finalist in the 2020 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, on a previous post on this very blog. Trust us when we say that you will not regret immersing yourself in the unforgettably wry and observational voice of 15-year-old Ricky, crafted and shaped by Damien Wilkins’ bold and beguiling prose.

Overdrive cover Monster, Michael Grant (ebook)
{dystopian, science fiction, action}
From the author of the crazily popular Gone series comes this new trilogy, available for the first time on OverDrive as a Book Club read. In the aftermath of the Perdido Beach meteorite and the deadly wave of mutations that followed, Earth is once again being struck by meteorites bearing an even more deadly virus. This time, the whole world is exposed, and humans are beginning to change, again, some gaining unfathomable power. Sound like your kind of thing? We have the follow-ups Hero and Villain available for your delectation as well.

Overdrive cover You Can Do a Graphic Novel, Barbara Slate (ebook)
{non fiction, art, creative writing, comics}
If you’ve ever been interested in the art of creating graphic novels and comics, this nifty guide is meant for you! It starts at the start — with the story — and shows you the ropes as you move through the whole creative process, from drawing techniques and layout/structure tips, to how to deal with creative block and building strong and recognisable characters. Who knows, we may just see your work on our shelves in the zine collections at Arapaki, He Matapihi, and Newtown Libraries!

Overdrive cover Feminism, Nadia Abushanab Higgins (ebook)
{non fiction, feminism, social sciences, women}
This book is a concise and well-written introduction to the concepts and movements embodied by the word ‘feminism,’ which author Nadia Abushanab Higgins describes as “America’s new F-word.” Although it does have an undeniable focus on the history and contemporary definitions of feminism in the United States, it still provides a useful international perspective on the movement through really interesting profiles of pioneers including Gloria Steinem, Rebecca Walker, Elizabeth Stanton, and more. If you’re interested in the intersectionality between feminism and the Black Lives Matter and #GiveNothingToRacism movements, we have a great introduction for you here.

We Need These eManga in Our Lives (and so do you)

We understand it’s been a dark time for many manga fans. The books you were able to borrow before our libraries closed are long finished, their covers growing thick with the dust of disappointment. Your days are growing heavy with the weight of unresolved cliffhangers. Thankfully, our eLibrary is absolutely stuffed full of manga series to keep you going until you can get your hands on printed material once again. Below are some of our faves, but be sure to check out the Comics, Graphic Novels, and Manga section on OverDrive/Libby for more gold.

Overdrive cover Assassination Classroom, Volume 1, Yusei Matsui (ebook)
Volumes 1 – 5 available on OverDrive.
One of the most popular manga series currently publishing outside Japan, in Assassination Classroom we join Nagisa, Sugino, Karma, Okuda, and the other would-be assassins of Class 3E as they navigate life, death, and education under their moon-killing, pseudo-octopoid, super-organism teacher, Koro-sensei. Sound weird? Well, strap in. This is shōnen sci-fi manga at its best we’re talking about here — pretty much anything goes.

Overdrive cover Cardcaptor Sakura Omnibus, Volume 1, CLAMP (ebook)
Omnibus Volumes 1 and 2 available on OverDrive.
I love Cardcaptor Sakura unreservedly, and once you read it, you will too — and not just for its super awesome anime adaptation that aired in the late ’90s. This series has everything you’re looking for in a shōjo ‘magical girl’ manga — namely, an awesomely strong and compellingly-rendered magical girl to lead the cast, vicious beasts to fight, mythological dreamscapes to explore, complex characters that grow into their roles, and of course it can all be pulled together into a largely unknown trading card game from the year 2001 that I wish I owned. Some day, some day.

Overdrive cover Haikyu!!, Volume 1, Haruichi Furudate (ebook)
Volumes 1 – 8 available on OverDrive.
Okay, I admit it. I was skeptical about Haikyu!! at first. I mean, I’m not really one for the whole sportsball thing, so a manga about one boy’s drive to become the greatest volleyball player in Japan didn’t really sound like my cup of tea. With that out of the way, if you read one thing from this list, read this. The characters are expertly-drawn, both in terms of line and in terms of personality. The whole gamut of human experience is explored and poignantly rendered: hubris, ambition, disappointment, determination, loss, commitment, betrayal, hurt, unity — but ultimately it is this series’ big-heartedness that will win you over. Do yourself a favour and read it now.

Overdrive cover One-Punch Man, Volume 1, ONE (ebook)
Volumes 1 – 5 available on OverDrive.
I still remember the first time my friend showed me the One-Punch Man webcomic. Even then, in the summer of 2010, it seemed legendary, destined for greater things. And so it was — the manga remake is full of the charm, the absurdity, the inexplicable baldness, and the manic, supercharged energy of the original webcomic, but distilled, whisked, blended, and baked into the extended manga form. It’s a superhero story like no other, and we couldn’t recommend it more highly.

Overdrive cover Tokyo Ghoul, Volume 1, Sui Ishida (ebook)
Volumes 1 – 8 available on OverDrive.
Sui Ishida’s Tokyo Ghoul may just be one of the greatest tales in contemporary fantasy. The premise is simple — in the shadow of our regular human world there dwell mysterious, powerful, and cannibalistic demi-humans known as ghouls, kept at bay by the powerful but shadowy government-controlled CCG (Commission of Counter Ghoul), who will go to any length to exterminate ghouls from the face of the planet. The morals of each party? Grey. The storytelling? Immersive, dark, and intense. The characters? Deeply human and beautifully flawed, with motivations that gradually unwind as we get to know them. The result? A series you must read. Not for the faint of heart.

This is just the barest sliver of excellent manga you can find on OverDrive and Libby. If we don’t have what you’re after, you can always use the handy-dandy ‘Recommend to Library’ tool to suggest we purchase what you’re after. At the moment you can only recommend one title every 30 days, to make sure our librarians aren’t overwhelmed, so choose wisely!

Doing Classics at School? We got ya!

So, school is still a thing? Right?! I’m betting it is pretty hard to do school stuff from home as well as be around your family/bubble crew all day, as well as deal with what’s going on in the world. Lots of stuff happening, we can all agree. As I’m sure you know your teachers are doing everything they can in these hard times to keep your education ticking so be sure to say a massive thank you to the teachers in your life whenever you get a chance!

I thought I would put together a list of resources for anyone who is a CLASSICS student and is studying The Big Three.

Zeus, Poseidon and Hades, you ask?… (remembering the good ‘ol days of Percy Jackson)

No. The Odyssey, The Iliad and The Aeneid. These are three really common texts for senior High School Classics students to come across. If you’re doing something else at school -I’m sorry!- I’ll include some general resources in the bottom of this post.

Note: just like Shakespeare there are lots of different versions of ancient texts, with different page numbers, line numbers and even order of events. If you remember that a lot of these works are actually works of epic poetry it makes sense that depending on interpretation there might be quite different methods of presentation.  Remembering that some of it is poetry helps with reading it too, stick to the beat and rhyme rather than getting caught up in all the particulars and then later on go back and look up individual words you need to.

So: Check with your teacher what version of the text you are meant to be using!!!

Also: Heads up! Lots of ancient texts contain stories and imagery of violence and sexual violence, so look after yourself and check ratings of stuff (or avoid it completely if you need, talk to your teacher) if you are watching film versions.


Odyssey / Homer

Overdrive coverMini bio: Odysseus, after fighting in the Trojan War, tries to return back home to Ithaca and his wife Penelope, but because a lot of weird stuff happens to him, it takes ten years…you heard that right: ten years! 

  • This is a foundational example of a heroes quest.         
  • Odysseus is repeatedly shown to have the traits of Ancient Greek heroism through the ways that he defeats and overcomes the trials/tasks of his journey.
  • This story has been incredibly influential on storytelling since and is considered a fundamental text in our understanding of the time and ideas around manhood, heroism and what a quest is. In the end this is ultimately an adventure romp with villains, monsters, hot women with ulterior motives and a fair bit of magic.
  • In the context of this time and story, Odysseus’ decisions (somehow including the seven year fling) are meant to show that he is ultimately faithful to his his wife and overcomes temptation. I know, I know…MASSIVE double standards for men and women around sex and marriage… but back then they thought he did good!

The Iliad / Homer

Overdrive cover

Wee bit back in time from The Odyssey. Essentially a prequel to it with overlapping characters but different leads. Takes place during the Trojan War.

Mini bio: This book is set in the final weeks of the Trojan War, which if you think about it it a pretty interesting plot device, to start at the end of something. Lots of previous events are spoken of and implied but not shown. Essentially the Greeks are surrounding Troy because Paris, a prince of Troy took Menelaus, the King of Sparta’s wife Helen back with him from Greece to Troy. She is ‘the most beautiful woman in the world blah blah blah.’ Spoiler: the Greek side wins because of the horse, you know the rest. It’s in pop culture big time.

Featuring famous characters like: our old friend Odysseus, Achilles, Hector, Paris, Helen, many other mortals and a whole bunch of gods such as Zeus, Hera, Athena, Aphrodite…

If you want to see a film version of this with some seriously famous leads watch 2004’s TROY. Not a substitute for reading the text, the plot varies a bit, but a pretty fun movie.


The Aeneid / Virgil

Overdrive cover

While the other two are GREEK stories this one is ROMAN. This story is written to detail the story of the founding of Rome. So basically when the Greeks storm Troy via a very crafty wooden horse, most of the Trojans are killed but Aeneas gets together a group of survivors who escape and sail out of Troy go on an adventure and eventually make it to Italy where he founds Rome. Dido, who is the Queen of Carthage falls in love with Aeneas for a period, eventually the gods remind him of his destiny and he leaves her to continue on his journey to Italy.

Importantly this story has as much to do with the Roman politician and ruler at the time, AUGUSTUS, as it does the foundation of Rome. There are constantly parallels made between Augustus and Aeneas and the Roman political state of the time this text was being written. It can be understood as political propaganda in this way, a statement and praise of Virgil’s political moment in time. This said, Virgil’s motives and ideas are not that straightforward and he also uses this text to comment negatively on the politics of his time, it’s a double whammy.


In summary

Episode one: The Iliad, The Greek armies win the war against Troy with a wooden horse. Lots of other stuff happens.

Episode two: The Odyssey, Odysseus takes a really ridiculously long amount of time to get home after fighting in the Trojan War. He does get home eventually. Lots of stuff happens.

Episode three (takes place at the same time as The Odyssey, kind of in a wiggly ancient history way, well at least starts after the Trojan War like The Odyssey): The Aeneid, Aeneas takes a really ridiculously long time to get to Italy and found Rome after he escapes from Troy after the Trojan War. Lots of other stuff happens.

If you want to learn things and read something entertaining check out Stephen Fry’s Mythos and Heroes! For something less serious, Courtney Carbone’s Greek Gods (#squadgoals) really hits the spot.

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