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Books with Bodies Like Mine

When I was a kid and then a teenager, I never read about anyone in books that looked like me.  I have always loved to read, and have always found solace in stories, but never truly identified with any of the protagonists, because none of them ever looked like me.

The heroes and heroines of the books that were around when I was growing up were all thin.  Rarely were they ever described as being thin, occasionally the word skinny was used for a particularly thin character,  but  they were generally called average, or normal.  Which is something I, a kid in a fat* body, had been led to believe I was definitely not.

* Note: I use the word fat as a weight neutral term and simple descriptor, like tall or blonde.  Personally I prefer it to other euphemisms, but I acknowledge not everyone is comfortable with referring to themselves in that way.

Most of the books I grew up reading were about pretty, thin, blonde, American girls named Stacey or Jessica.  They had bouncy ponytails and couldn’t decide which boy they liked the most.  I was a fat, pimply Australian teenager with an old lady name and a mop of fluffy, mousy brown hair who was used to boys ignoring me.  Stacey and Jessica’s lives weren’t very relevant to me.

If there were fat characters, they were subjects of derision, sassy friends (who never got the guy) or had to have lost weight by the end of the book.  Not exactly relevant to most fat teenager’s lives to be honest.

It wasn’t until I was an adult, and stumbled across Kerry Greenwood’s Earthly Delight series, where the heroine was described as voluptuous, or at most, curvy, that I finally had a character that bore any relevance to me.  And while they’re great stories and Corinna Chapman is a badass heroine, they really skirted around her body size and shape, like actually saying she wasn’t thin was something shameful or wrong.

Thankfully, times have changed.  We now actually have books that are about more than just pretty, thin, blonde, American girls named Stacey or Jessica.  We are hearing stories about people in bodies that have long been ignored.  I can tell you, I’ve spent a lot of the past few years catching up!

Here are few of my favourite so far…

Dumplin’ / Murphy, Julie

Dumplin’ is a gorgeous story about Willowdean Dickson, aka Dumplin’ to her beauty queen Mom Rosie, who meets a hot boy named Bo, joins the local beauty pageant as a protest and has a fight with her best friend.  All to a soundtrack of Dolly Parton and supported by some fabulous drag queens.  My favourite quote from Dumplin’ is the way to get a bikini body is to put a bikini on your body.  Bonus Netflix TV series for this one, starring Jennifer Aniston as Rosie (perfectly cast).

Puddin’ / Murphy, Julie
If you like Dumplin’, you’ll love Puddin’.  Technically a sequel, Puddin’ is the story of Millie Michalchuck, one of Willowdean’s classmates and fellow beauty pageant constestant.  I loved Willowdean as a character, but I **ADORE** Millie.  She’s just so genuinely kind and open.  Millie is forced to spend time with the prettiest girl in school and over time, they realise they have a lot more in common than is obvious.

Heads up, a third book in the series is due out in 2021, called Pumpkin and all I know is that the tagline is “This year, prom’s a drag.”  Looks like we’re getting a queer character in the series.

Eleanor & Park / Rowell, Rainbow

This is the book I always wanted when I was a teenager.  Set in 1986 (confession, I was a teenager in 1986) it’s a first love story about two misfits from very different families.  Touching on themes of race, domestic violence, poverty and bullying, Eleanor & Park is the perfect story about two young people with very imperfect lives.  You may have read some other books by Rainbow Rowell, but this is her debut novel and she landed a #1 New York Times Best Seller on her first book!

Shrill : notes from a loud woman / West, Lindy

Another debut book that became a New York Times bestseller (fat gals got talent), Shrill is a memoir by brilliant writer Lindy West.  Yep, this one got made into a series too.  I followed Lindy right from her first big article about living in a fat body in The Stranger and it has been a delight to see her career just keep moving onwards and upwards.

Huge : a novel / Paley, Sasha

This is one I found through watching the TV series first.  Wilhelmina and April meet at Wellness Springs, a posh fat camp in California.  They have very different attitudes to being there and hate each other from the start.  It features a whole cast of fat characters and there is lots of nuance and depth to the story, which is unfortunately a rare thing.

Faith / Houser, Jody

An actual fat superhero in an actual comic.  I mean, it’s something I never thought would happen in my lifetime and I’m thrilled that I was wrong.  The artwork by Francis Portela and Marguerite Sauvage is gorgeous.

 

Happy fat : taking up space in a world that wants to shrink you / Hagen, Sofie

This one is a non-fiction book by the hilarious Danish comedian Sofie Hagen.  It has a little bit of memoir, but a lot more social commentary, Sofie writes about the reality and politics of living in a fat body, and how to liberate yourself in a world that is so often unwelcoming to those of us who live in fat bodies.

These are just a few of my favourites, I’m still working my way through a lot of other titles that have come along in recent years.  Have you read any that you can recommend?  Please share in the comments below.

 

 

New Non-fiction for People Who Care About the World

Dear readers, we understand that you are people who care about things. We are also  people who care about things — things like racism, climate change, the environment, mental health, LGBTQ+ rights, art and poetry. The absolute wizards who buy books for our collections — those to whom we humble blog administrators must show all due deference — have certainly not stopped buying the good stuff during this whole pandemic situation. Here’s a selection of recently-added non-fiction for you to really sink your teeth into.

Stamped : racism, antiracism, and you. / Reynolds, Jason
“A book about race. The construct of race has always been used to gain and keep power, to create dynamics that separate and silence. This remarkable reimagining of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning reveals the history of racist ideas in America, and inspires hope for an antiracist future. It takes you on a race journey from then to now, shows you why we feel how we feel, and why the poison of racism lingers. It also proves that while racist ideas have always been easy to fabricate and distribute, they can also be discredited.” (Catalogue)

Stuff that’s loud : a teen’s guide to unspiralling when OCD gets noisy. / Sedley, Ben
“Do you have thoughts that seem loud? Do your worries spiral out of control and then suck you in? Do intrusive thoughts show up and make you scared of doing certain things – or not doing things – a certain way? Do you ever get a feeling like something bad might happen? Does this loud stuff make you feel alone, or worse, crazy?

First, you aren’t alone – even if it sometimes feels that way. And second, you are not crazy. But you might be struggling with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). And while OCD can be difficult, you don’t have to let it have power over you. Instead, you can live a life full of meaning, great relationships and joy with the help of this book. Life doesn’t have to stay stuck any longer.” (Catalogue)

Pandemic : how climate, the environment, and superbugs increase the risk / Goldsmith, Connie
“How close are we to having another worldwide health crisis? Pandemic epidemiologists have identified one they believe is likely to happen in the next couple decades: the flu. Learn about factors that contribute to the spread of disease by examining past pandemics and epidemics, including the Bubonic Plague, smallpox Ebola, HIV/AIDS, and Zika. Examine case studies of potential pandemic diseases, like SARS and cholera, and find out how pathogens and antibiotics work. See how human activities such as global air travel and the disruption of animal habitats contribute to the risk of a new pandemic. And discover how scientists are striving to contain and control the spread of disease, both locally and globally.” (Catalogue)

Have pride : an inspirational history of the LGBTQ+ movement / Caldwell, S. A.
“Have Pride gives an honest, chronological account of how life has changed for LGBTQ+ people and sheds light on the people that brought about this change. The heartfelt stories of LGBTQ+ revolutionaries are better understood as you realise what a revolutionary act it was to live openly as an LGBTQ+ person. In this book there is no hiding from the dark chapters of history and the persecution people faced for being true to who they were. But like Fred Rogers’ mother suggested, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people helping”, Have Pride highlights the LGBTQ+ heroes who ‘helped’ others, pushed for change and inspire pride in ourselves and our history.” (Extract from publisher review)

Hypnopompia: the thoughts of dawning minds : Re-draft’s 19th collection of writing by New Zealand’s young adults
The 19th in the brilliant Re-Draft series, Hypnopompia brings together New Zealand’s very best young writers in yet another dazzling collection. Wake up to the new world as seen by the most talented of our post-millennial writers. The 80 young writers featured in the collection have grown up with the century and Hypnopompia is their very woke report card on its perplexities, perils, passions and never ending variety. At times funny, at times dark, always engaging, their stories and poems are never less than perceptive and open-eyed. (Publisher summary)

Imaginary borders / Martinez, Xiuhtezcatl
“Pocket Change Collective is a series of small books with big ideas from today’s leading activists and artists. In this installment, Earth Guardians Youth Director and hip-hop artist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez shows us how his music feeds his environmental activism and vice versa. Martinez visualizes a future that allows us to direct our anger, fear, and passion toward creating change. Because, at the end of the day, we all have a part to play.” (Catalogue)

Trans+ : love, sex, romance, and being you / Gonzales, Kathryn
Trans+ is a growing-up guide for teens who are transgender, nonbinary, gender-nonconforming, or gender-fluid. This book explores gender identity, gender expression, gender roles, and how these all combine and play out as gender in the world. Includes chapters on medical, health, and legal issues as well as relationships, family, and sex.” (Catalogue)

From the Vaults III: Around the World

So far in our From the Vaults series, highlighting the niftiest of nifty collections held primarily in the Central collection in Johnsonville, we’ve heard about LGBTQ+ manga and had a delicious expose on some of our favourite Māori authors. Did you know that the library also holds a huge collection of books in different world languages?

That’s right: we have everything from the usual suspects (français, español, Deutsch, 汉语) to the slightly more niche (Tiếng Việt, русский, Türkçe, Tagalog) to the even nichier still (αρχαία ελληνικά, Cymraeg, српски, עִבְרִית‎). All up, there are about 40 languages (other than English and te reo Māori) with significant chunks of shelf-space represented in our collection: a polyglot’s dream. Check out our World Languages master list to find out what we have and where.

Whether you speak a different language at home, are learning one for school, or are just a general language and linguistics nerd (we know you’re out there!), let us know what you want and the finest librarians in the land will scurry to the shelves, squint at the spines of the book, figure out whether what they’re looking at is Sinhalese, Tamil or Gujarati, and send the book of your desires to whichever of our 14 locations is most convenient to you. Sound sweet? Oh yeah, it is.

While you’re at it, why not check out our selection of language-learning databases? Duolingo is great, but your library card gives you access to a huge range of options — dive in now! You can also check out publications, newspapers and magazines in over 60 languages over on PressReader, and there are also heaps of resources available on OverDrive, both for foreign language study and, if you’re learning Chinese, a large amount of Chinese fiction and nonfiction for your delectation.

Now, this wouldn’t be a From the Vaults post without some recommendations. You’ll have to forgive me for selecting only from the languages I speak (Greek and Latin, really — I think you see where this is going) — let us know what languages you speak below, and we’ll see what we can find for you!

Collected poems / Cavafy, Constantine
As far as Greek poets from the modern era go, you can’t go past the extraordinary Egyptian-Greek poet C. P. Cavafy (Κ. Π. Καβάφης). This book is a collection of his complete works in Greek and English on facing pages, spanning several decades from the 1880s to the early 1930s. His work is almost indescribably sublime — by turns nihilistic and sparking with a manic energy; dreamily, hazily introspective and bursting from the page to club you around the head with its intensity. His explorations of queer love and romance are also to die for, and very much ahead of his time. Even if you don’t speak Greek, y’all should read this, like, yesterday. Here’s a sample to whet your poetic appetite; a ghostly evocation of a city and a mind in sympathetic ruin:

You won’t find a new country, won’t find another shore.
This city will always pursue you.
You’ll walk the same streets, grow old
in the same neighborhoods, turn gray in these same houses.
You’ll always end up in this city. Don’t hope for things elsewhere:
there’s no ship for you, there’s no road.
Now that you’ve wasted your life here, in this small corner,

you’ve destroyed it everywhere in the world.

Καινούργιους τόπους δέν θά βρείς, δέν θάβρεις άλλες θάλασσες.
‘Η πόλις θά σέ ακολουθεί. Στούς δρόμους θά γυρνάς
τούς ίδιους. Καί στές γειτονιές τές ίδιες θά γερνάς
καί μές στά ίδια σπίτια αυτά θ’ ασπρίζεις.
Πάντα στήν πόλι αυτή θά φθάνεις. Γιά τά αλλού – μή ελπίζεις –
δέν έχει πλοίο γιά σέ, δέν έχει οδό.
Έτσι πού τή ζωή σου ρήμαξες εδώ

στήν κώχη τούτη τήν μικρή, σ’ όλην τήν γή τήν χάλασες.

— From C. P. Cavafy, “The City.” (1894)

Three classical poets : Sappho, Catullus and Juvenal. / Jenkyns, Richard
Okay, you knew from the general nerdy tone of this post that we’d end up in classical territory eventually. And this book bears the distinction of preventing three of the coolest classical poets in their original languages with some pretty dazzling English translations alongside. Sappho, of course, wrote in Greek and was one of the earliest known female poets whose work has survived to the present day. And oh boy, has it survived — her work is vital, breathless, exciting and alluring. Catullus and Juvenal both wrote in Latin — the former is probably the sassiest poet ever to have lived (and also one of the most soul-bendingly gorgeous lyrical poets as well), while the latter delighted in satire — his subject was The Human Experience. There’s plenty to enjoy with these three poets — scoop them up now for your reading pleasure!

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.

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.

Overdrive coverOverdrive coverOverdrive cover

Check Your History with Bridget Williams Books

You know those little white books with coloured spines you see by the counter at bookshops?  -back in the day when you were allowed to leave your house to go to bookshops and libraries, two weeks and a different world ago- Well, those little books are some of the amazing books published by Bridget Williams Books (BWB).

I think that lots of people never really think about the people who are involved in editing and publication.  They slip under the radar a lot. We think about the person or people who wrote the book and who end up reading it but the truth is that a LOT happens to the book between someone writing it and you reading it! If you’re a creative writer or do much writing for school you’ll probably know that it is an entirely different headspace and process between writing and editing. I wrote a very rough draft of this blog post in a scrappy old paper book before I ever touched the keys.

Bridget Williams has been publishing in Aotearoa/New Zealand since 1976. If you’ve ever read or seen The Oxford History of New Zealand, Tangata Whenua:  An Illustrated History or A History of New Zealand Women, she has been involved in all of these. These days she is the director and publisher of BWB and continues to be part of the creation of some of the most important local writing that’s being made.

BWB has a focus on telling stories from this country and puts emphasis on publishing with and for Māori. They are interested in exploring the experience of people who live on these islands and being a platform for voices that have historically not had a platform to speak from.

(Side note: Try looking at all the books on your/anyone’s bookshelf and count how many of them are: written by someone from Aotearoa/New Zealand, written by women or genderqueer people, written by indigenous people, published in New Zealand, have an LGBTQ+ author or content … Also how many different languages are on your bookshelf?)

As you can’t run down to the library right now (even though I know you really really want to) and check out these books in person, what you do have access to is their  amazing online resources. If you’ve got a research project for school, or are just looking for some words to fill the extra time you’ve got at home, these are awesome resources to explore: just plug in your library card number and your PIN and you’re good to go!

Bridget Williams Books – Text Collection: for all your bookish needs — we all know you have them!

Bridget Williams Books – The NZ History Collection: for all your historical needs.

Bridget Williams Books – Treaty of Waitangi Collection: for all your Te Tiriti needs.

It’s Fashion Week: books to make you think

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsI love fashion and I love fashion week. But with fast fashion causing 10% of carbon emissions (predicted to rise to 25% if nothing changes) according to the United Nations Environment Project, now is as good a time as any to think about how the clothes we love affect the world we live in. It’s important to do your own reading, though: this is a contentious issue, where privilege, monetary concerns and environmental matters intersect. This is just what Wellington Libraries has; there’s plenty more out there!

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWardrobe crisis : how we went from Sunday best to fast fashion is a good overview – written by a fashion insider- of how the fashion industry encourages consumption, where fast fashion started, and some interesting suggestions on how to change your own fashion habits. I haven’t had the chance to read Fashionopolis: The Price Of Fast Fashion & The Future Of Clothes as it’s a new order but it has got good reviews so it’s a must read on the costs of being on-trend.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsChange is in the air, though. Slow fashion : aesthetics meets ethics showcases new companies and new approaches to making fashion ecologically and socially friendly. If you want to apply these to your own wardrobe, there’s The Conscious Closet : The Revolutionary Guide to Looking Good While Doing Good, another new order, which will focus on personal changes. My own favourite is Craft of Use: post-growth fashion, which has many inspiring stories of clothes that endure.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSecondhand/thrift shopping is another way to maximize your look while being eco (and budget) friendly: Thriftstyle : the ultimate bargain shopper’s guide to smart fashion has some great tips and is a great read.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDIY is becoming more and more popular, so if sewing your own clothes is a bit too intimidating, try mending the ones you have: Mending matters which teaches you how to repair your denim, and Visible mending : artful stitchery to repair and refresh your favorite things are great places to start.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThen you could try altering your clothes: DIY wardrobe makeovers : alter, refresh & refashion your clothes is amazing. I also love Stylish remakes which has some really cool ideas about how to change up what you already have. Then there’s Simple tailoring & alterations, a more technique-heavy book which will instruct you on how to hem and alter.

If you do want to start making your own clothes, we have so many books to help you get going. Dewey numbers 646 (sewing) and 746 (textile arts, which include knitting and crochet) are good places to get started.

New books!

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDescendant of the crane, Joan He

When her father is murdered, Princess Hesina of Yan is thrust into power, suddenly the queen of an unstable kingdom. Determined to find her father’s killer, Hesina engages the aid of a soothsayer. It is a treasonous act, punishable by death, because in Yan, magic was outlawed centuries ago. Using the information provided, Hesina turns to Akira, an investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of her kingdom at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsToffee, Sarah Crossan

Allison has run away from home and with nowhere to live finds herself hiding out in the shed of what she thinks is an abandoned house. But the house isn’t empty. An elderly woman named Marla, with dementia, lives there — and she mistakes Allison for an old friend from her past called Toffee. Allison is used to hiding who she really is, and trying to be what other people want her to be. And so, Toffee is who she becomes. After all, it means she has a place to stay. There are worse places she could be. But as their bond grows, and Allison discovers how much Marla needs a real friend, she begins to ask herself – where is home? What is a family? And most importantly, who am I, really? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWe hunt the flame, Hafsah Faizal

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya– but neither wants to be. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA curse so dark and lonely, Brigid Kemmerer

Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall, was cursed to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year; he could only be saved if a girl fell for him. But at the end of each autumn he turned into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction… and destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope. Washington, D.C. native Harper Lacy’s father is long gone, her mother is dying, and her brother constantly underestimates her because of her cerebral palsy. When she is sucked into Rhen’s cursed world, Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. As Rhen regains hope, they learn it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe missing of Clairdelune, Christelle Dabos ; translated from the French by Hildegarde Serle

When Ophelia is promoted to Vice-storyteller by Farouk, the ancestral Spirit of Pole, she finds herself unexpectedly thrust into the public spotlight. Her gift–the ability to read the secret history of objects–is now known by all, and there can be no greater threat to the nefarious denizens of her icy adopted home than this. Beneath the golden rafters of Pole’s capitol, she discovers that the only person she may be able to trust is Thorn, her enigmatic and emotionally distant fiancé́. As one influential courtier after another disappears, Ophelia again finds herself unintentionally implicated in an investigation that will lead her to see beyond Pole’s many illusions to the heart of a formidable truth. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWhat I lost, Alexandra Ballard

What sixteen-year-old Elizabeth has lost so far: forty pounds, four jean sizes, a boyfriend, and her peace of mind. As a result, she’s finally a size zero. She’s also the newest resident at Wallingfield, a treatment center for girls like her–girls with eating disorders. Elizabeth is determined to endure the program so she can go back home, where she plans to start restricting her food intake again. She’s pretty sure her mom, who has her own size-zero obsession, needs treatment as much as she does. Maybe even more. Then Elizabeth begins receiving mysterious packages. Are they from her ex-boyfriend, a secret admirer, or someone playing a cruel trick? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSomewhere only we know, Maurene Goo

9:00 p.m.: Lucky is the biggest Korean pop star on the scene, and tomorrow is her debut on The Tonight Show, hopefully a breakout performance for her career. She’s in her fancy hotel, and her feet are killing her. She’s dying for a hamburger. 10:00 p.m.: Jack is sneaking into a fancy hotel, on assignment for his tabloid reporter job that he keeps secret from his high-profile journalist father. On his way out, he runs into a girl wearing hotel slippers who is determined to find a hamburger. She looks familiar. She’s kind of cute. He’s really curious. 12:00 a.m.: Nothing will ever be the same. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCold day in the sun, by Sara Biren

Holland Delviss wants to be known for her talent as a hockey player, not a hockey player who happens to be a girl. But when her school team is selected to be featured and televised as part of HockeyFest, her status as the only girl on the boys’ team makes her the lead story. Not everyone is thrilled with Holland’s new fame, but there’s one person who fiercely supports her, and it’s the last person she expects (and definitely the last person she should be falling for): her bossy team captain, Wes. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWicked fox, Kat Cho

Gu Miyoung is a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. The modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt. After feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. She violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead– her gumiho soul– in the process. Jihoon saw her nine tails, but he’s drawn to her anyway. Their a tenuous friendship blossoms into something more… until a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead. Now Miyoung must choose between her immortal life– and Jihoon’s. (Publisher summary).

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe candle and the flame, by Nafiza Azad

Fatima lives in the city of Noor, on the Silk Road, which is currently protected by the Ifrit, djinn of order and reason, from attacks by the violent and ruthless Shayateen djinn–but Fatima was infused with the fire of the Ifrit who died saving her when she was four years old, and when one of the most important Ifrit dies she finds herself drawn into the intrigues of the court, the affairs of the djinn, and the very real dangers of a magical battlefield. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThere’s something about Sweetie, Sandhya Menon

Ashish Patel didn’t know love could be so… sucky. After being dumped by his ex-girlfriend, his mojo goes AWOL. Even worse, his parents are annoyingly, smugly confident they could find him a better match. So, in a moment of weakness, Ash challenges them to set him up. The Patels insist that Ashish date an Indian-American girl — under contract. Per subclause 1(a), he’ll be taking his date on “fun” excursions like visiting the Hindu temple and his eccentric Gita Auntie. Kill him now. How is this ever going to work? Sweetie Nair is many things: a formidable track athlete who can outrun most people in California, a loyal friend, a shower-singing champion. Oh, and she’s also fat. To Sweetie’s traditional parents, this last detail is the kiss of death. Sweetie loves her parents, but she’s so tired of being told she’s lacking because she’s fat. She decides it’s time to kick off the Sassy Sweetie Project, where she’ll show the world (and herself) what she’s really made of. Ashish and Sweetie both have something to prove. But with each date they realize there’s an unexpected magic growing between them. Can they find their true selves without losing each other? (Publisher summary(

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDear Ally, how do you write a book? Ally Carter

Have you always wanted to write a book, but don’t know where to start? Or maybe you’re really great at writing the first few chapters . . . but you never quite make it to the end? Or do you finally have a finished manuscript, but you’re not sure what to do next? Fear not — if you have writing-related questions, this book has answers! Whether you’re writing for fun or to build a career, bestselling author Ally Carter is ready to help you make your work shine. With honesty, encouragement, and humor, Ally’s ready here to answer the questions that writers struggle with the most. Filled with practical tips and helpful advice, Dear Ally is a treasure for aspiring writers at any stage of their careers. It offers a behind-the-scenes look at how books get made, from idea to publication, and gives you insight into the writing processes of some of the biggest and most talented YA authors writing today. (Amazon summary).

Wellington Pride!

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHooray! Wellington Pride Week starts tomorrow and goes for a full two weeks. We’ve got an amazing selection of Queer YA fiction (check out our awesome display at Central) but I think the Non Fiction needs a bit more love.

Telling your own, authentic story is a central part of Queer culture. So we’re lucky to have a cool selection of memoirs: Finding Nevo : how I confused everyone by Nevo Zisin describes their own unique journey towards their understanding of their own place in the world. We also have Some assembly required : the not-so-secret life of a transgender teen by Arin Andrews with Joshua Lyon and Being Jazz : my life as a (transgender) teen by Jazz Jennings. A particular favourite is The full spectrum : a new generation of writing about gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and other identities. It’s edited by David Levithan and Billy Merrell, whose names you probably recognise from their own writing.

There’s also a great collection of “big” names in Queer history, called (appropriately) Queer, there, and everywhere : 23 people who changed the world. I’d also recommend Queer: a graphic history.

Sometimes everyone needs a little bit of help and we’ve got some books that (hopefully) will help. Queer : the ultimate LGBT guide for teens by Kathy Belge and Marke Bieschke and The Trans teen survival guide by Owl and Fox Fisher are just two.

Stay safe, be kind, and have a wonderful Pride.

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsEnter the dark house, Laurie Faria Stolarz

What’s your worst nightmare? For Ivy Jensen, it s the eyes of a killer that haunt her nights. For Parker Bradley, it’s bloodthirsty sea serpents that slither in his dreams. And for seven essay contestants, it’s their worst nightmares that win them an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at director Justin Blake’s latest, confidential project. Ivy doesn’t even like scary movies, but she’s ready to face her real-world fears. Parker’s sympathetic words and perfect smile help keep her spirits up… at least for now. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOlivia Twist, Lorie Langdon

Olivia Twist is an innovative reimagining of Charles Dickens’ classic tale Oliver Twist, in which Olivia was forced to live as a boy for her own safety until she was rescued from the streets. Now eighteen, Olivia finds herself at a crossroads: revealed secrets threaten to destroy the “proper” life she has built for herself, while newfound feelings for an arrogant young man she shouldn’t like could derail her carefully laid plans for the future. Olivia Brownlow is no damsel in distress. Born in a workhouse and raised as a boy among thieving London street gangs, she is as tough and cunning as they come. When she is taken in by her uncle after a caper gone wrong, her life goes from fighting and stealing on the streets to lavish dinners and soirees as a debutante in high society. But she can’t seem to escape her past … or forget the teeming slums where children just like her still scrabble to survive. Jack MacCarron rose from his place in London’s East End to become the adopted “nephew” of a society matron. Little does society know that MacCarron is a false name for a boy once known among London gangs as the Artful Dodger, and that he and his “aunt” are robbing them blind every chance they get. When Jack encounters Olivia Brownlow in places he least expects, his curiosity is piqued. Why is a society girl helping a bunch of homeless orphan thieves? Even more intriguing, why does she remind him so much of someone he once knew? Jack finds himself wondering if going legit and risking it all might be worth it for love. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWe set the dark on fire, Tehlor Kay Mejia

At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children. Both paths promise a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class. Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her pedigree is a lie. She must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society. And school couldn’t prepare her for the difficult choices she must make after graduation, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio. Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her, or will she give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio–and a chance at a forbidden love? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA prom to remember, Sandy Hall

Cora: Dating Perfect Boyfriend Jamie. Has NO IDEA how to break up with him… Paisley: Anti-prom. Somehow nominated her anxiety-ridden best friend for prom king… Henry: Hates social situations. Invited to prom by the most popular girl in school. SEND HELP! Otis: Half of one of the cutest couples in his class. Not quite ready for a post-prom hotel room… Lizzie: Shy. Excited to go to prom. With a boy. Whose name she doesn’t know. Cameron: Loner. Over high school. Just wants to meet the mysterious girl who’s been leaving him notes… Jacinta: Unnamed Nerd Girl #3. Determined to become the star of her own life, starting with prom… (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe fire keeper’s girls, L.P. Hansen

The Fire Keeper’s Girls is a story full of hope and light, a fast-paced adventure involving deep emotional trials that many teenage girls will identify with. Girls are empowered to be curious, follow their dreams and stand up for their beliefs. The characters gain insight and courage from influential women they meet, real women described in the feature pages. The author encourages girls into confident self-knowledge and raises the profile of women in the sciences.(Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHappy girl lucky, Holly Smale

Introducing The Valentines. Fame – It Runs in the Family! Sisters Hope, Faith and Mercy have everything: fame, success, money and beauty. But what Hope wants most of all is love, and it doesn’t matter how far she has to go to find it. Except real-life isn’t like the movies. Even if you’re a Valentine…(Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsPrettyboy must die, Kimberly Reid

When Peter Smith’s classmate snaps a picture of him during an early-morning workout at the track, Peter thinks he might be in trouble. When she tweets that photo–along with the caption, “See the Pretty Boy Run,”–Peter knows he’s in trouble. But when snipers drop through the ceiling and take out his Chem teacher with a Bunsen burner, Peter’s pretty sure his trouble just became a national emergency. Because he’s not really Peter Smith. He’s Jake Morrow, former foster-kid turned CIA operative. After a massive screw up on his first mission, he’s on a pity assignment, about a dozen hit lists and now, Twitter, apparently.As #Prettyboy, of all freaking things.His cover’s blown, his school’s under siege, and he knows what his superiors would say: get the hell out. But Jake won’t run. He’s on the trail of a hacker nearly as good as he is, a hacker working with a disgraced criminal network Jake helped expose, a hacker who’s determined to hunt Jake down. If Jake fails, #Prettyboy will become #Deadboy faster than you can say, Fifteen minutes of fame. Trapped in a high school with rabid killers and rabid fans, he’ll need all his training and then some to save his job, his school and, oh yeah, his life. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA girl’s guide to kicking goals, Laura Hensaw and Steph Claire Smith

A girl’s guide to health, wellness and happiness from model/entrepreneur BFFs Steph Claire Smith and Laura Henshaw. Growing up is hard for everyone. For girls today, in a world of 24-hour connectivity, it can be harder than ever. A Girl’s Guide to Kicking Goals is about growing confidence in yourself even while your body changes. It’s a guide to smashing your goals and, when you don’t, bouncing back and trying again. Learn to be kind to yourself; stop comparing and judging others. Feel OK with the skin you’re in and shake off the bullies. Get stress- and time-management hacks to keep you calm in a super-busy world. Plus killer workouts and delicious healthy recipes for a girl on the go. Steph Claire Smith and Laura Henshaw are two models turned young entrepreneurs. They are extremely passionate about healthy living, body confidence in young women, and making social media a positive space. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOdd and true, Cat Winters

Trudchen grew up hearing Odette’s stories of their monster-slaying mother and a magician’s curse. But now that Tru’s older, she’s starting to wonder if her older sister’s tales were just comforting lies, especially because there’s nothing fantastic about her own life–permanently disabled and in constant pain from childhood polio. In 1909, after a two-year absence, Od reappears with a suitcase supposedly full of weapons and a promise to rescue Tru from the monsters on their way to attack her. But it’s Od who seems haunted by something. And when the sisters’ search for their mother leads them to a face-off with the Leeds Devil, a nightmarish beast that’s wreaking havoc in the Mid-Atlantic states, Tru discovers the peculiar possibility that she and her sister–despite their dark pasts and ordinary appearances–might, indeed, have magic after all. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCatching Teller Crow, Ambelin Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina

Nothing’s been the same for Beth Teller since she died. Her dad, a detective, is the only one who can see and hear her – and he’s drowning in grief. But now they have a mystery to solve together. Who is Isobel Catching, and what’s her connection to the fire that killed a man? What happened to the people who haven’t been seen since the fire? As Beth unravels the mystery, she finds a shocking story lurking beneath the surface of a small town, and a friendship that lasts beyond one life and into another. Told in two unforgettable voices, this gripping novel interweaves themes of grief, colonial history, violence, love and family. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAmelia Westlake, Erin Gough

Harriet Price has the perfect life: she’s a prefect at Rosemead Grammar, she lives in a mansion, and her gorgeous girlfriend is a future prime minister. So when she decides to risk it all by helping bad-girl Will Everhart expose the school’s many ongoing issues, Harriet tells herself it’s because she too is seeking justice. And definitely not because she finds Will oddly fascinating. Will Everhart can’t stand posh people like Harriet, but even she has to admit Harriet’s ideas are good – and they’ll keep Will from being expelled. That’s why she teams up with Harriet to create Amelia Westlake, a fake student who can take the credit for a series of provocative pranks at their school. But the further Will and Harriet’s hoax goes, the harder it is for the girls to remember they’re sworn enemies – and to keep Amelia Westlake’s true identity hidden. As tensions burn throughout the school, how far will they go to keep Amelia Westlake – and their feelings for each other – a secret? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe stars below, David Baldacci

The explosive conclusion to David Baldacci’s #1 worldwide bestselling and award-winning fantasy series! his is it. Vega Jane has tried to outrun, outsmart, and outlast her enemy, but the showdown she has dreaded is finally here. Her rag-tag crew must take a stand against a fully-trained army, knowing the odds are impossible, knowing each of them could die for nothing. But when evil comes, heroes stand to meet it. When injustice appears, the only choice is to stand and fight. Master storyteller David Baldacci sounds the drums of war in the jaw-dropping conclusion to the #1 international bestselling Vega Jane fantasy series. (Publisher summary)

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