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

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Summer Scribes at Karori Library

Do you ever look outside during these idyllic summer months and think to yourself, “What a perfect opportunity to go to the library and hone my writing skills?” Many of us at the library (especially this librarian, who promptly burns to a crisp upon setting foot outside between the months of December and March) sympathise — so during the month of January, we’ve arranged the perfect programme for you.

Summer Scribes — following on from the immensely popular Winter Writers series of workshops held last year — is a series of writing workshops for teens designed to help you develop your individual voice in writing, whether in prose, poetry, or any other writing style you please. Check the details below:

What? Summer Scribes
Where? Karori Library, 1st floor nonfiction area
When? Every Tuesday in January, 3:00pm

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

I’ll leave you with the aptly-titled — and, as you’ll see, totally gorgeous — poem by the late Tom Leonard (it helps if you read it with a strong Scottish accent):

A Summer’s Day

yir eyes ur
a mean yir

pirrit this wey
ah thingk yir
byewtifl like ehm

fact a thingk yir
ach a luvyi thahts

jist thi wey it is like
thahts ehm
aw ther iz ti say

(© Tom Leonard, 1996)

(Disclaimer: We promise not to make you write in Scots. (Well, maybe a little. (Trust me, it’s so much fun to read out loud!)))

New Zealand Dance Week interview: Olivia Morphew

We chatted with local Wellington dancer Olivia Morphew about her dance inspirations, library love and, of course, what she’s reading at the moment:

What inspired you to be a dancer?
Really, there wasn’t much to it when I decided to start. I got put in ballet classes by my mum just like every other four year old. For a long period of time, I wanted to quit, but my mum wouldn’t let me. I persevered, and eventually found out how much I loved to be able to express myself through movement. The biggest moment for me was actually my first contemporary class, at the age of 10. I discovered how dance can really be used as a form of communication in many different ways. I brought this to all forms of dancing, and this is what still inspires me now.

What do you love about the library?
The biggest thing I love about the library is the community. It can be used for so much; relaxation, time to lose yourself in a book, quiet time, a safe place to go and sit, a meeting place with friends, or a place to just chill out. Everyone is so kind and welcoming, not only in the wonderful staff but the amazing Wellington Library community. It really feels like a place of home.

Who is your all-time favourite book character?
I would have to say my all-time favourite book character would be Holden Caulfield, from The Catcher in The Rye. The reason for this is that he is just such a complex, relatable character. He not only emits to others this about himself, but also to the reader. His development in the story just blows my mind every time I read it.

What inspired you to take come to the library for this photo shoot?
Well, some friends and I went out for this fun town photo shoot, and met up in the library. We thought that it was actually a really comforting and creative place to take some shots, and that was it really! It was just the ambiance of the library and the community feel that made us decide to take photos there I guess.

Do you have a favourite dance book or magazine?
This might sound weird, but I have honestly never ventured out into the world of books in communication with dance. Obviously the Secret Lives of Dancers was a huge thing for me when that was on TV, but I really have never read any books that relate to dance. It’s something that I really want to do and think I’ll look into in the future.

What are you reading at the moment?
At the moment I’m re-reading An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. John Green is one of my all-time favourite authors, and I absolutely love his work. Next I really want to read Turtles All The Way Down as I’ve heard so many good things about it, and I’m always the first to jump at a new(ish) John Green book!

What is your favourite book to recommend?
My favourite book to recommend would be without doubt The Catcher in The Rye. This book is so appealing to me because at first glance it isn’t really about anything terribly exciting, but has so much meaning to it and symbolism that it encompasses. I have re-read this book many times, and highly recommend anyone young or old who hasn’t read it to give it a try!

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDreadnought, April Daniels

Danny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of Dreadnought, the world’s greatest superhero. Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and dies right in front of her, Danny was trying to keep people from finding out she’s transgender. But before he expired, Dreadnought passed his mantel to her, and those secondhand superpowers transformed Danny’s body into what she’s always thought it should be. Now there’s no hiding that she’s a girl. It should be the happiest time of her life, but Danny’s first weeks finally living in a body that fits her are more difficult and complicated than she could have imagined. Between her father’s dangerous obsession with “curing” her girlhood, her best friend suddenly acting like he’s entitled to date her, and her fellow superheroes arguing over her place in the ranks, Danny feels like she’s in over her head. She doesn’t have time to adjust. Dreadnought’s murderer -a cyborg named Utopia- still haunts the streets of New Port City, threatening destruction. If Danny can’t sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction. (Publisher summary)

First lines: This is taking too long. I just want to pay for the shit and go. It’s not like I’m breaking the law or anything-except it totally feels like I’m breaking the law. It’d be really cool to be able to do this without shame, without hopping on a train to ride halfway across the city first. Finally, I get to the front of the line and drop nail polish on the counter. The cashier rings me up with a smile that makes me curdle inside.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBlackbird, N.D Gomes

Olivia disappeared the night the blackbirds died. It was New Years Eve the night that dead blackbirds descended, hours before fourteen year old Alex McCarthy’s sister Olivia went missing from a party. Committed to finding out what happened to her sister, within the previously safe walls of their subarctic Orkney village, Alex knows that dishevelled, sometimes intoxicated Detective Inspector Birkens is her best shot. Yet as they uncover the secrets behind Olivia’s last night, Alex starts to find things she may be better off never knowing …(Publisher summary)

First lines: Thirty-first of December. The end of 2015. That was the night that five thousand blackbirds dropped dead from the sky just before midnight in Beebe, small-town America. Witnesses recalled a dark blanket descending upon the town just moments before the state of Arkansas was propelled into the year 2016. The blanket turned out to be a sheath of dead feathers and battered bodies.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOtherworld, Jason Segel and Kirtsen Miller

The future is now. And the future is terrifying. That’s how Otherworld traps you. It introduces you to sensations you’d never be able to feel in real life. You discover what’s been missing–because it’s taboo or illegal or because you lack the guts to do it for real. And when you find out what’s missing it’s almost impossible to let it go again. There are no screens. There are no controls. You don’t just see and hear it–you taste, smell, and touch it too. In this new reality, there are no laws to break or rules to obey. You can live your best life. Indulge every desire. It’s a game so addictive you’ll never want it to end. Until you realize that you’re the one being played. Welcome to Otherworld, where reality is dead. Step into the future. Leave your body behind. (Publisher summary)

First lines: There are guys online who swear it was heaven. They still sit around like a bunch of old geezers, swapping tales of epic storms, monstrous beats and grisly battles. Talk to any gamer in their twenties and at some point they’ll say: “You’re too young to get it. You never saw Otherworld.”

Happy New Year!

2017 is going to be an interesting year for everyone. The teen blog team will be still bringing you news about upcoming books, recommendations and other cool stuff. Keep watching this space: hopefully there’ll be some new and interesting content as well.

Book Quote of the Day

Hey there, as a crafts and YA fan, I’ve started to put both universes together using hand lettering. Every now and again I’ll publish a Book Quote of the Day.

This is the first one in the series.

YA - wide awake_levithan_3


Overdrive cover Wide Awake, by David Levithan (eBook)
“In the not-too-impossible-to-imagine future, a gay Jewish man has been elected president of the United States. Until the governor of one state decides that some election results in his state are invalid, awarding crucial votes to the other candidate, and his fellow party member. Thus is the inspiration for couple Jimmy and Duncan to lend their support to their candidate by deciding to take part in the rallies and protests. Along the way comes an exploration of their relationship, their politics, and their country, and sometimes, as they learn, it’s more about the journey than it is about reaching the destination. Only David Levithan could so masterfully and creatively weave together a plot that’s both parts political action and reaction, as well as a touching and insightfully-drawn teen love story.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)


Webcomic recommendation: Stand Still, Stay Silent

Stand Still, Stay Silent is probably one of my favourite webcomics ever – which is surprising, since I only started it on Friday. I read it through in one sitting, and I keep going back – there’s stuff you miss on the first reading. This summary is taken from its website:

“It’s been 90 years after the end of the old world. Most of the surviving population of the Known world live in Iceland, the largest safe area in existence, while the safe settlements in the other Nordic countries; Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland, are small and scarce. Countless mysterious and unspoken dangers lurk outside the safe areas, the Silent world, and hunters, mages and cleansers will spend their lives defending the settlements against the terrifying beings. Because of a great fear towards everything in the Silent world no official attempts to explore the ruins of the old have been made, and most of the information about it has turned into ancient lore, known by few. But now, at last, it is time to send out an research crew into the great unknown! A poorly funded and terribly unqualified crew, but a crew nonetheless.”

The title comes from a piece of advice for dealing with the strange beasts that lurk in the Silent World, which neatly sums up the comic’s creepy atmosphere.

“If you come across a Beast, a Troll or a Giant do not run or call for help, but stand still and stay silent. It might go away.”

There’s an awful lot of weight in that might, hmm?

Despite the grim sounding premise, the author also describes the comic this way: “(this) is a lighthearted, Nordic postapocalyptic adventure with a lot of friendship, some magic and a little bit of horror and drama.”

There’s a large amount of humour in this comic, as the various team members try to work past cultural differences and language barriers, their own inexperience and the fact that some of them are just plain weird, to accomplish their mission, or at the very least, survive. The Beasts, Trolls and Giants are truly terrifying, but luckily they have mages, a kitten and an Icelandic shepherd. You’ll have to read the comic to work out that last sentence. It’s also great to see fiction based in the Nordic countries – something that is rare and intriguing, since the author skillfully weaves Nordic mythology through the comic.

And the art. The art is stunning – lush, beautifully coloured, unique – a style which manages to convey both the humour and the horror of the setting. It’s clearly a labour of love, and the love of the characters and setting is obvious.

The other thing to love about this webcomic is its regular update schedule – every day, although obviously time zones come into play. It’s a small thing, but it means you won’t be left hanging around waiting for the next installment.

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWhisper to me, Nick Lake

Cassie is writing a letter to the boy whose heart she broke. She’s trying to explain why. Why she pushed him away. Why her father got so angry when he saw them together. Why she disappears some nights. Why she won’t let herself remember what happened that long-ago night on the boardwalk. Why she fell apart so completely. Desperate for his forgiveness, she’s telling the whole story of the summer she nearly lost herself. She’s hoping he’ll understand as well as she now does how love—love for your family, love for that person who makes your heart beat faster, and love for yourself—can save you after all. (Goodreads).

First lines: These are the things you need to know:
1. I hear voices.
2. I miss you.
3. I wish I could take back what I did to you.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsRiverkeep, Martin Stewart

The Danék is a wild, treacherous river, and the Fobisher family has tended it for generations—clearing it of ice and weed, making sure boats can get through, and fishing corpses from its bleak depths. Wulliam’s father, the current Riverkeep, is proud of this work. Wull dreads it. And in one week, when he comes of age, he will have to take over. Then the unthinkable happens. While recovering a drowned man, Wull’s father is pulled under—and when he emerges, he is no longer himself. A dark spirit possesses him, devouring him from the inside. In an instant, Wull is Riverkeep. And he must care for his father, too. When he hears that a cure for his father lurks in the belly of a great sea-dwelling beast known as the mormorach, he embarks on an epic journey down the river that his family has so long protected—but never explored. Along the way, he faces death in any number of ways, meets people and creatures touched by magic and madness and alchemy, and finds courage he never knew he possessed.(Goodreads).

First lines: “Your hands are shaking, Wulliam.”
Wull shrugged and shifted his grip on the mug.
“It’s cold.”

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsIn another life, Laura Jarrat

American sisters Hannah and Jenny Tooley have spent their lives dreaming of flying to the UK and visiting all the places their English mother has told them about. But Jenny’s dream turns to a nightmare when she vanishes without a trace. Hannah and her father arrive in England to a big police investigation. As Hannah gets to know some of Jenny’s friends and acquaintances, she realises that her sister is up to her neck in something – and the mysterious text messages she’s receiving bear this out. She is particularly drawn to Harry and, against her better judgement, begins to fall in love.(Goodreads).

First lines: Your text is where this story starts, Jenny.
I need you. Please come.
And so here I am: coming.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHow to disappear, Ann Redisch Stampler

Nicolette Holland is the girl everyone likes. Up for adventure. Loyal to a fault. And she’s pretty sure she can get away with anything…until a young woman is brutally murdered in the woods near Nicolette’s house. Which is why she has to disappear. Jack Manx has always been the stand-up guy with the killer last name. But straight A’s and athletic trophies can’t make people forget that his father was a hit man and his brother is doing time for armed assault. Just when Jack is about to graduate from his Las Vegas high school and head east for college, his brother pulls him into the family business with inescapable instructions: find this ruthless Nicolette Holland and get rid of her. Or else Jack and everyone he loves will pay the price. As Nicolette and Jack race to outsmart each other, tensions—and attractions—run high. Told in alternating voices, this tightly plotted mystery and tense love story challenges our assumptions about right and wrong, guilt and innocence, truth and lies.(Goodreads).

First lines: There is a body in the woods. The flash of an electric yellow blanket in the moonlight, unfurling as it’s dragged along. A glimpse of nylon binding at the edges, sweeping the ground at the corner where the arm has fallen out.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsEnd game, Alan Gibbons

There are not many things Nick Mallory knows for sure. He knows there was a car crash. He knows he is in hospital. And he knows he feels furious with his father. What he doesn’t know is why.
As his memories start to return, Nick finds himself caught in a net of secrets and lies – where truth and perception collide and heroes and villains are not easy to tell apart.(Goodreads).

First lines: He was here again last night, the man with the dead eyes. He was in my room. He was in head. I don’t have a name for him yet. I don’t have names for many things since it happened. What I have is a jumble.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHow it feels to fly, Kathryn Holmes

The movement is all that matters. For as long as Samantha can remember, she’s wanted to be a professional ballerina. She’s lived for perfect pirouettes, sky-high extensions, and soaring leaps across the stage. Then her body betrayed her. The change was gradual. Stealthy. Failed diets. Disapproving looks. Whispers behind her back. The result: crippling anxiety about her appearance, which threatens to crush her dancing dreams entirely. On her dance teacher’s recommendation, Sam is sent to a summer treatment camp for teen artists and athletes who are struggling with mental and emotional obstacles. If she can make progress, she’ll be allowed to attend a crucial ballet intensive. But when asked to open up about her deepest insecurities, secret behaviors, and paralyzing fears to complete strangers, Sam can’t cope. Sam forms an unlikely bond with Andrew, a former college football player who’s one of her camp counselors. As they grow closer, Andrew helps Sam see herself as he does—beautiful. But just as she starts to believe that there’s more between them than friendship, disappointing news from home sends her into a tailspin. With her future uncertain and her body against her, will Sam give in to the anxiety that imprisons her? (Goodreads).

First lines: I focus on the movement. My arms extending away from my shoulders. My back curving and arching. My knees bending and straightening. My feet pressing into the floor. I focus on all that, and for just a moment, I’m able to forget that I’m in a cozy meeting room, not a dance studio.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBad apple, Matt Whyman

Like all good law-abiding citizens, sixteen-year-old Maurice no longer considers going off the rails as just a teenage phase. It can only mean the mark of a troll…But these trolls aren’t confined to causing trouble online: now they’re in our homes, on our streets and have ruined life as we know it. As a rule Maurice tries to avoid trouble – until the day he crosses paths with Wretch, a very bad apple indeed. And with tensions rising, can these two teens put their differences aside in order to survive? (Goodreads).

First lines: “Why can’t they just go back where they came from?” The man addressed the television as if he expected a direct answer. “There should be laws!”
On the screen, the reporter stood before a crater. It spanned the complete width of a freeway, sixty kilometres south of Dallas according to the sliding news ticker. Judging by the way several vehicles teetered over the edge, a catastrophic event had occurred without warning.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsIvory and bone, Julie Eshbaugh

Hunting, gathering, and keeping his family safe—that’s the life seventeen-year-old Kol knows. Then bold, enigmatic Mya arrives from the south with her family, and Kol is captivated. He wants her to like and trust him, but any hopes of impressing her are ruined when he makes a careless—and nearly grave—mistake. However, there’s something more to Mya’s cool disdain…a history wrought with loss that comes to light when another clan arrives. With them is Lo, an enemy from Mya’s past who Mya swears has ulterior motives. As Kol gets to know Lo, tensions between Mya and Lo escalate until violence erupts. Faced with shattering losses, Kol is forced to question every person he’s trusted. One thing is for sure: this was a war that Mya or Lo—Kol doesn’t know which—had been planning all along. (Goodreads).

First lines: The darkness in this cave is so complete I can no longer see you, but I can smell your blood.
“I think your wound has opened up again.”
“No, it’s fine.” Your words echo against the close walls. Even so, your voice sounds small. “I ran my fingers over it. It’s dry.”

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDownriver, Will Hobbs

No adults, no permit, no river map. Just some “borrowed” gear from Discovery Unlimited, the outdoor education program Jessie and her new companions have just ditched. Jessie and the others are having the time of their lives floating beneath sheer red walls, exploring unknown caves and dangerous waterfalls, and plunging through the Grand Canyon’s roaring rapids. No one, including Troy, who emerges as the group’s magnetic and ultimately frightening leader, can forsee the challenges and conflicts. (Goodreads).

First lines: I stumbled on a rock that was barely sticking up, my legs were that tired. Flailing for balance, with the pack working against me, I slipped in the mud and almost went down. I still Couldn’t believe this was really happening. I couldn’t believe my dad had done this to me.

The Shepherd’s Crown: goodbye, Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett was one of the best loved and most prolific authors of all time. He’s best known for his Discworld series, as well as his collaboration with Neil Gaiman, Good Omens. He was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease in 2007, and then died on March 12, aged 66. This is a brief summary, of course: there will be longer obituaries that do real justice to this warm, funny man who advocated for environmental issues, freedom of speech and the right to die. He leaves behind his loving family and many friends. But I don’t feel qualified to write about his life, really, but I do know I can talk about his books. I’ve read them avidly since I was 12 and was still avidly reading them 14 years later, eagerly anticipating each new title. It’s hard to believe there’ll be no more – they’ve been such a fixture of mine and many other people’s lives for so many years. But the books that he left are so utterly brilliant that we could have had half their number and still been blessed with one of the funniest, wisest and most true series of books that have ever been written.

The Discworld series were, for me, the height of the comedic fantasy genre. But they weren’t just funny. They were clever. The Discworld series showed a fantasy world that changed: what happens, he asked, when a fantasy world develops the printing press? The Mail System gets reformed? The invention of paper money? The characters changed too: Tough-as-nails copper Sam Vimes fought dragons and other such odd antagonists until he found himself (much to his discomfort) a Duke. Susan, the granddaughter of Death went from being an orphaned schoolgirl to helping save existence. Then there was Tiffany Aching, an eleven year old girl who wanted to be a witch and became one. I’m sure there are many of you who grew up with her. Or how about Moist Von Lipwig, a small time hustler to (semi) reputable government official? This is leaving aside the Lancre Witches and the rest of the Anhk-Morepork City Watch, of course. Everyone grew. Everyone changed. This was not an immaculate fantasy world but one that lived and breathed and was absolutely recognisable even despite the trolls and dwarves and dragons. The Discworld series never felt anything less than inhabited, as if even the bit-players could wander off the page and live their own complete lives, far away from the main storyline.

There was so much heart in the stories of these people. They struggled through their fights with the big bads, yes, but the books never wandered from that sense of playful absurdity. But they never felt less realistic for it. It seemed perfectly feasible that a world that contained an orang-utan librarian at a university could also contain some of the best literary depictions of the poor, the sad, and the truly evil. Evil was not ever separate, either: Pratchett depicted it in all its forms, from external supernatural horror to, even worse, the evil that ordinary people are capable of when they can. He shone a harsh light on the ignorant and the greedy. But this was balanced out by a sense of hope – sometimes people can be better than the sum of their parts. Sometimes people can be noble, good, brave or kind. Sometimes all four at once. And sometimes that was all that was needed to win the battle, if not the war.

It seems that I’m leaving the most important bit until last: these books were laugh-out-loud funny.

So reading The Shepherd’s Crown, the final Discworld book, was a heart-rending experience. Not just because the book is, in itself, very sad, but because also I know there’ll be no more. It’s a bittersweet end; we’re all leaving the Discworld for good. But what Terry Pratchett left us was a wealth of books, an enduring legacy, a world that you can discover anew every time you open one of his books. Not only that, but Terry Pratchett the man left his mark on philanthropic works, such as Alzheimer’s Research UK, and was a Orangutan Foundation Trustee.

The tributes have flowed thick and fast, and this is just one of the many. But they are well deserved.

“Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?”
― Terry Pratchett, Going Postal

Te toa o te rā – Rāapa

Tēnei te mihi ki a Tohu Ana-Te-Rangi, ka pai koe, i whai koe i te kōrero i mua tata atu. Ka taka pai ngā whakaaro i a koutou ngā kaituhi!

Māwhai tuhituhi – Rātū

Ata mārie taiohi mā

Inanahi rā i puta te whārangi ipurangi mō te Māwhai tuhituhi, tā koutou pakiwaitara tuhituhi ā-ipurangi.  Kua oti kē ngā whiti e rua, kei a koe te whiti tuatoru.   Āpiti atu ō tuhituhi ki te pakiwaitara ia rā, mō ngā rā 21-25 o Hūrae.

Mēnā ka hiahia koe ki te uru ki te whakataetae haere ki te whārangi o te māwhai tuhituhi, pāngia te pikitia “māwhai tuhi” ki runga rā,  āpiti tō tuhi ki te wahanga tuhi ki raro nei rānei.

Ka whiriwhirihia kotahi te whiti ia rā hei wini i te taonga o te rā, ki te wikitoria i te taonga nunui pea, ā, ki te hono ki te pakiwaitara mo te whiti o te rā.

Tukuna mai ō whiti – kia tuhi!

Ānei ngā whiti e rua…

Kua horoia ngā rīhi, ka paoho mai te pouaka whakaata, “I tēnei wā ka huri ki ngā matapae huarere mō āpōpō, tērā te whakatūpato a Te Ratonga Tirorangi, he āwhā, he hau āwhiwhio …” Kātahi ka weto te pouaka whakaata! Ka weto ngā raiti o te whare! Kua pō uriuri.

Ngaro hirea ana nga tangi o te ao. Matapiko ana te hau awhiowhio i waho, ka tau. PAKO! Keko ana te tiro a Pita i te aro pena o te hitawe. Ka taka te mahana o te whare, kui ana te hau o roto. Pakaru ana tana hamuti i te kitenga o te atarangi a tana Kuia.

……… ka aha nāianei?


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