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Halloween Movies to Make You Feel Young Again

Halloween has arrived and Wellington City Libraries has some spooktacular DVDs in the collection for your viewing pleasure and frightful night in.

Relive your childhood Halloween movie-watching ways with some of our favourite picks from our movie collection below. To complete the experience we recommend a plenitude of popcorn and a whole bunch of blankets to hide under. Even better if you can find your old teddy that used to bring you comfort in the dead of the night.

Let the scare fest begin!

image courtesy of amazon.com1. Tim Burton’s The nightmare before Christmas.

“Jack Skellington, the pumpkin king of Halloween Town, is bored with doing the same thing every year for Halloween. One day he stumbles into Christmas Town, and is so taken with the idea of Christmas that he tries to get the resident bats, ghouls, and goblins of Halloween town to help him put on Christmas instead of Halloween — but alas, they can’t get it quite right.” (Catalogue).

image courtesy of amazon.com2. Corpse bride.

“Set in a 19th century European village, this stop-motion animation feature follows the story of Victor, a young man whicked away to the underworld and wed to a mysterious corpse bride, while his real bride Victoria waits bereft in the land of the living. Though life and the Land of the Dead proves to be a lot more colourful than his strict upbringing, Victor learns that there is nothing in this world – or the next – that can keep him away from his one true love. It’s a tale of optimism, romace and a very lively afterlife, told in classic Burton style.” (Catalogue).

image courtesy of amazon.com3. Paranorman.

“From the makers of Coraline comes the story of Norman, a boy who must use his special powers to save his town from a centuries-old curse. In addition to spooky zombies, he’ll also have to take on unpredictable ghosts, wily witches, and, worst of all, clueless grown-ups. But this young ghoul whisperer will soon find his paranormal activities pushed to their otherworldly limits.” (Catalogue).

image courtesy of amazon.comimage courtesy of amazon.com4. Gremlins 1 and 2.

“Billy Peltzer’s father buys him a new cuddly pet. But heed these three warnings: Don’t ever get him wet. Keep him away from bright light. And the most important thing, the one thing you must never forget: no matter how much he cries, no matter how much he begs…never, never feed him after midnight.” (Catalogue). In the sequel, “A Gremlin is captured by a mad scientist, who not only helps it multiply, but gives it the ability to talk.” (Catalogue).

image courtesy of amazon.com5. Addams Family Values.

“It’s love at first fright when Gomez and Morticia welcome a new addition to the Addams household – Pubert, their soft, cuddly, mustachioed boy. As Fester falls hard for voluptuous nanny Debbie Jilinsky, Wednesday and Pugsley discover she’s a black-widow murderess who plans to add Fester to her collection of dead husbands. The family’s future grows even bleaker when the no-good nanny marries Fester and has the kids shipped off to summer camp. But Wednesday still has a Thing or two up her sleeve.” (Catalogue)

6. The Witches (1989) and (2020). image courtesy of amazon.com

In the 1989 version, “Nine-year-old Luke finds that saving the world from witches is a tall order for a boy who has been turned into a mouse.” (Catalogue). In the 2021 version, “The darkly humorous and heartwarming tale of a young orphaned boy who, in late 1967, goes to live with his loving Grandma in the rural Alabama town of Demopolis. As the boy and his grandmother encounter some deceptively glamorous but thoroughly diabolical witches, she wisely whisks him away to a seaside resort. Regrettably, they arrive at precisely the same time that the world₂s Grand High Witch has gathered her fellow cronies from around the globe, undercover, to carry out her nefarious plans.” (Catalogue).

image courtesy of amazon.com7. Ghostbusters 1 and 2. 

“The original “Ghostbusters” and its sequel teamed comedians Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis with director Ivan Reitman, to tell the story of a trio of paranormal investigators who must save the world from the evil clutches of the supernatural.” (Catalogue).

image courtesy of amazon.com8. The Goonies.

Another oldie but a goodie! Join the Goonies on a swashbuckling adventures! Following a mysterious treasure map into a spectacular underground realm of twisting passages, outrageous booby-traps and a long-lost pirate ship full of golden doubloons, the kids race to stay one step ahead of bumbling bad guys… and a mild-mannered monster with a face only a mother could love. A family adventure classic from start to buccaneering finish.

image courtesy of amazon.com

9. Labyrinth.

“When young Sarah cavalierly wishes that goblins would take her crying baby brother away, she gets her wish. Now, she must confront Gareth – ruler of a mystical world one step removed from reality, master of the goblins who abducted her brother… and creator of the treacherous labyrinth that Sarah must solve in order to make things right.” (Catalogue).

image courtesy of amazon.com10. Coraline.

“A young girl walks through a secret door that she has found in her new home and discovers an alternate version of her life. On the surface, this parallel reality is eerily similar to her real life, but much better. When her adventure turns dangerous, and her counterfeit parents, including the Other Mother, try to keep her forever, Coraline must count on her resourcefulness, determination, and bravery to get back home – and save her family.” (Catalogue).

Extra challenge… from beyond the grave!

Get into the Halloween spirit and dance your socks off zombie-style to Thriller by the late but talented Michael Jackson! Hmmm, I wonder if he would be keen to accept the vacancy of Wellington City Libraries’ library ghost?

Did you know? Wellington City Libraries’  Nao Robots, Frank and Stein, (formally known as Red and Blue) can whip out their own dance moves to to Thriller by Michael Jackson. Read more about them here.

Have a safe and happy halloween!

Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival

Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival is running from the 4th–21st of November, so now is the perfect time to explore the world of cinema!

Your library membership gives you access to our DVD collection (rental fees apply). Here are some past NZIFF gems that we have on offer:

The Red Turtle / Dudok de Wit (Netherlands/Japan)

A poignant, wordless fable of luminous imagery and swirling animation. In a majestic world of intricate hand-drawn textures, a shipwrecked man is found marooned on a desert island. With his attempted escapes thwarted by the strange and larger-than-life red turtle, the man’s existence is forever altered when something extraordinary occurs. (Catalogue)

The Farewell / Lulu Wang (USA, Chinese-American)

Chinese-born, U.S.-raised Billi reluctantly returns to Changchun to find that, although the whole family knows their beloved matriarch, Nai-Nai, has been given mere weeks to live, everyone has decided not to tell Nai Nai herself. To assure her happiness, they gather under the joyful guise of an expedited wedding, uniting family members scattered among new homes abroad. As Billi navigates a minefield of family expectations and proprieties, she finds there’s a lot to celebrate. (Catalogue)

A Date for Mad Mary / Darren Thornton (Ireland)

Mad Mary McArdle has returned home after a short spell in prison – for something she’d rather forget. Her best friend, Charlene (Charleigh Bailey), is about to get married and Mary is the maid of honour. When Charlene refuses Mary a ‘plus one’ on the grounds that she probably couldn’t find a date, Mary becomes determined to prove her wrong. Her attempts at dating are a disaster and she winds up feeling more alone…until she meets Jess (Tara Lee) and everything changes. (Adapted from Catalogue)

Kedi / Ceyda Torun (Turkey)

Hundreds of thousands of cats roam the metropolis of Istanbul freely. For thousands of years they’ve wandered in and out of people’s lives, becoming an essential part of the communities that make the city so rich. Claiming no owners, these animals live between two worlds, neither wild nor tame, and they bring joy and purpose to those people they choose to adopt. In Istanbul, cats are the mirrors to the people, allowing them to reflect on their lives in ways nothing else could. (CATalogue)

I Used to Be Normal : A Boyband Fangirl Story / Jessica Leski (Australia)

Filmed over four years, and spanning three generations, this intimate coming of age story follows a diverse group of women who have had their lives dramatically changed by their boyband obsessions. These four women must navigate the challenges of relationships, family, sexuality, and faith, while constantly grappling with all the problems and contradictions that are part of being in love with a boyband. (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Miseducation of Cameron Post / Desiree Akhavan (USA)

Cameron is sent to a gay conversion therapy center after getting caught with another girl in the back seat of a car. Run by the strict and severe Dr. Lydia Marsh and her brother, Reverend Rick, the center is built upon repenting for same sex attraction. In the face of intolerance and denial, Cameron meets a group of fellow sinners, including the amputee stoner Jane and her friend, the Lakota Two-Spirit Adam. Together, this group of teenagers forms an unlikely family as they fight to survive. (Catalogue)

Adult cards also have access to online streaming services to Kanopy and Beamafilm, so perhaps you could utilise a guardian’s library card for a family movie night!

After that, why not head over to LinkedIn Learning (free with your library card) and take one of their online filmmaking courses? Topics include making a short film from start to finish, cinematography, screenwriting, video editing and more!

Home is not a country: new YA fiction

Nothing is better than the smell of new books in the morning, and we have new YA books coming to our libraries every day. We thought we’d share with you some of our favourite recent arrivals — there’s something here for everyone, so get placing those reserves and send ’em where you want ’em! Here they are, in no particular order (actually that’s a lie, of course we had to put it in alphabetical order by author surname) — we’ve got fantasy, sci-fi, adventures, rom coms, and a host of awesome diverse reads, featuring LGBTQ+ authors and titles as well as books from Sudanese, Bangladeshi, Asian-American, and British Jamaican authors.

Kate in waiting / Albertalli, Becky
“Best friends Kate Garfield and Anderson Walker share a love of theater and crushes on the same guys, but when one of their long-distance crushes shows up at their school, real feelings might end their friendship.” (Catalogue)

Counting down with you / Bhuiyan, Tashie
“Karina Ahmed’s parents have a lot of rules, and for her it is worth it to follow those rules instead of her dreams. With her parents in Bangladesh for a month, she expects to relax those rules a bit, but when the guy she’s tutoring says she’s his girlfriend to cover up the fact that he’s getting help with his schoolwork, that breaks a major rule in a major way that she’s sure will end in disaster. A strict deadline — twenty-eight days — and payment in dozens of books changes her mind about the farce, but can Ace Clyde’s bad-boy charm end up changing her heart?” (Catalogue)

Way of the Argosi / De Castell, Sebastien
“Ten year old Ferius Parfax has a simple plan: kill every last inhabitant of the spell-gifted nation that destroyed her people, starting with the man who murdered her parents. Killing mages is a difficult business, of course, so Ferius undertakes to study the ways of the Argosi: the loosely-knit tribe of tricksters known for getting the better of even the most powerful of spellcasters. But the Argosi have a price for their teachings, and by the time Ferius learns what it is, it may be too late.” (Catalogue)

Home is not a country / Elhillo, Safia
“Nima doesn’t feel understood. By her mother, who grew up far away in a different land. By her suburban town, which makes her feel too much like an outsider to fit in and not enough like an outsider to feel like that she belongs somewhere else. At least she has her childhood friend Haitham, with whom she can let her guard down and be herself. Until she doesn’t. As the ground is pulled out from under her, Nima must grapple with the phantom of a life not chosen, the name her parents didn’t give her at birth: Yasmeen. But that other name, that other girl, might just be more real than Nima knows. And more hungry. And the life Nima has, the one she keeps wishing were someone else’s…she might have to fight for it with a fierceness she never knew she had.” (Catalogue)

The ones we’re meant to find / He, Joan
“It’s been three years since Cee woke up on the shore of an abandoned island, with no memories of life prior, or how she got there. All she knows is she has a sister– and is determined to find her. A world away, STEM prodigy Kasey is looking to escape from an eco-city– meant to be a sanctuary but now populated by people willing to do anything for refuge. After a series of man-made disasters rock the planet, Kasey must decide if she trusts science to help humanity. (Catalogue)

Tokyo ever after / Jean, Emiko
“It isn’t easy being Japanese American in a small, mostly white, northern California town, being raised by a single mother. When Izumi Tanaka discover her father is the Crown Prince of Japan, it means irreverent Izzy is literally a princess. She travels to Japan to meet the father she never knew– and discovers being a princess isn’t all ball gowns and tiaras. There are conniving cousins, a hungry press, a scowling bodyguard, and thousands of years of tradition and customs to learn practically overnight. Back home she was never ‘American’ enough, here she must prove she is ‘Japanese’ enough.” (Catalogue)

The Block / Oliver, Ben
“In the second book of The Loop trilogy, Luka is trapped in a fate worse than death. In the Block, he must toggle between enduring an Energy Harvest for twelve hours of the day and surviving complete immobilization. The only semblance of relief is the Sane Zone, created to keep prisoners from going completely mad. In this virtual reality, the prisoners live out their fantasies of life outside. But for Luka, it’s different. Happy is determined to find out the location of his friends, who disappeared after the Battle of Midway Park. But can Luka battle the descent into madness long enough to stop Happy’s manipulation tactics and keep his friends’ location safe? Another prison break is the only chance to protect the Missing. And as reality becomes increasingly scrambled on the outside, it’ll take an army to stop Galen from carrying out his plans.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Infinity reaper / Silvera, Adam
“Emil and Brighton defied the odds. They beat the Blood Casters and escaped with their lives — or so they thought. When Brighton drank the Reaper’s Blood, he believed it would make him invincible, but instead the potion is killing him. In Emil’s race to find an antidote that will not only save his brother but also rid him of his own unwanted phoenix powers, he will have to dig deep into the very past lives he’s trying to outrun. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The outlaws Scarlett & Browne : being an account of their daring exploits and audacious crimes / Stroud, Jonathan
“England has been radically changed by a series of catastrophes, large cities have disappeared and London has been replaced by a lagoon. The surviving population exists in fortified towns where they cling to traditional ways, while strangely evolved beasts prowl the wilderness beyond. Conformity is rigidly enforced and those who fall foul of the rules are persecuted: some are killed, others are driven out into the wilds. Only a few fight back and two of these outlaws, Scarlett McCain and Albert Browne, display an audacity and talent that makes them legends.” (Catalogue)

Cane warriors / Wheatle, Alex
“Moa is fourteen. The only life he has ever known is toiling on the Frontier sugar cane plantation for endless hot days, fearing the vicious whips of the overseers. Then one night he learns of an uprising, led by the charismatic Tacky. Moa is to be a cane warrior, and fight for the freedom of all the enslaved people in the nearby plantations. But before they can escape, Moa and his friend Keverton must face their first great task: to kill their overseer, Misser Donaldson. Time is ticking, and the day of the uprising approaches.” (Catalogue)

Webcomic collections

Webcomics are one of the best (although this may be controversial) things to come out of the internet. Creators has a direct path to new and diverse audiences, without meddling from publishers and often a better understanding of the current social climate than more mainstream titles. It seems that there’s a webcomic for any interest! WCL has to be a bit more…selective in the webcomic collections we acquire, but if the thought of clicking through hundreds of pages doesn’t appeal, we’ve got a decent selection.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHomestuck has been called the internet’s “Ulysses.” Possibly due to its length, possibly due to its devoted fanbase and its equally vocal detractors. It’s also incredibly hard to describe its plot. It’s also very hard to translate to a book format, as the author notes but he helpfully provides links to the actual pages where the plot is conveyed in gifs and flash animations. And it was created in MS paint, which is quite something. You’ll never read anything like it.

“A young man stands in his bedroom. It just so happens that today, the 13th of April, 2009, is this young man’s birthday. Though it was thirteen years ago he was given life, it is only today he will be given a name! What will the name of this young man be?”
-Homestuck, first lines.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGirl Genius has been running since 2005. It’s still going, and updates on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. That’s a lot of material. It is based around the adventures of Agatha Clay, who discovers that she has an ancient and mysterious birthright, as well as having the “spark” – a strange group of personality traits, which predisposes the person to acts of mad…genius. It’s one of the preeminent Steampunk works, although the author prefers the term “gaslamp fantasy.” At any rate, it’s a great webcomic but works so well in a printed format – it’s much easier to catch up! Here’s book one.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsYou probably never thought of seeking out a comic written by a five year old and professionally illustrated and you never thought you’d need it in your life but Axe Cop is really something else. It’s silly, anarchic, and really nice to look at; the comedy webcomic holy trinity. It’s really funny as well. The plot is basically the title. An axe-wielding cop fights crime, which consists of whatever a five year old deems as criminal (hint: dinosaurs are heavily involved). As a side note, the writer and the illustrator are brothers, which is adorable.

Other webcomics we have in printed format include Gunnerkrigg Court and Hark: a vagrant.

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAfter the fire, Will Hill

The things I’ve seen are burned into me, like scars that refuse to fade. Father John controls everything inside The Fence. And Father John likes rules. Especially about never talking to Outsiders. Because Father John knows the truth. He knows what is right, and what is wrong. He knows what is coming. Moonbeam is starting to doubt, though. She’s starting to see the lies behind Father John’s words. She wants him to be found out. What if the only way out of the darkness is to light a fire? (Publisher information)

First lines: I sprint across the yard, my eyes streaming, my heart pounding in my chest.
The noise of the gunfire is still deafening, and I hear – I actually hear – bullets whizzing past me, their low whines like the speeded-up buzz of insects, but I don’t slow down, and I don’t change course.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA jigsaw of fire and stars, Yaba Badoe

Sante was a baby when she was washed ashore in a sea-chest laden with treasure. It seems she is the sole survivor of the tragic sinking of a ship carrying refugees. Her people. Fourteen years on she’s a member of Mama Rose’s unique and dazzling circus. But, from their watery grave, the unquiet dead are calling Sante to avenge them: A bamboo flute. A golden band. A ripening mango which must not fall … if Sante is to tell their story and her own. (Publisher information)

First lines: There’s only one thing that makes any sense when I wake from my dream. I’m a stranger and shouldn’t be here. Should my luck run out, a black-booted someone could step on me and crush me, as if I’m worth less than an ant. This I know for a fact. And yet once or twice a week, the dream seizes me and shakes me about:
“Kill ’em! Kill ’em! Take their treasure!”

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsIt only happens in the movies, Holly Bourne

Audrey is over romance. Since her parents’ relationship imploded her mother’s been catatonic, so she takes a cinema job to get out of the house. But there she meets wannabe film-maker Harry. Nobody expects Audrey and Harry to fall in love as hard and fast as they do. But that doesn’t mean things are easy. Because real love isn’t like the movies…(Publisher information)

First lines: I wasn’t expecting candles.
They lit the whole cinema – tea lights, the stout white candles you get in churches, thin ones stuffed into candlesticks. My skin itched in their heat.
I blinked and shook my head. “What the hell?”

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFacing the flame, Jackie French

There have been fires before,but not like this. In 1978, as the hot wind howls and the grass dries, all who live at Gibber’s Creek know their land can burn. But when you love your land, you fight for it. For Jed Kelly, an even more menacing danger looms: a man from her past determined to destroy her. Finding herself alone, trapped and desperate to save her unborn child, Jed’s only choice is to flee – into the flames. (Publisher summary)

Jed risked a terrified glance at the mirror. It showed a bride in a parchment-coloured dress made of vintage lace tablecloths, her make-up perfect, her hair held in place with half a can of hairspray. That couldn’t be her. It couldn’t!

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCharlotte says, Alex Bell

Following the death of her mother in a terrible fire, Jemima flees to the remote Isle of Skye, to take up a job at a school for girls. There she finds herself tormented by the mystery of what really happened that night. Then Jemima receives a box of Frozen Charlotte dolls from a mystery sender and she begins to remember – a séance with the dolls, a violent argument with her step-father and the inferno that destroyed their home. And when it seems that the dolls are triggering a series of accidents at the school, Jemima realizes she must stop the demonic spirits possessing the dolls – whatever it takes. (Publisher summary)

First lines: “Don’t be frightened yet,” the voice says. “I’ll tell you when it’s time to be frightened…”
I turn, looking over my shoulder, but there is nobody there and I am alone once again at Whiteladies – that house of confused spirits and cracked china dolls and slaughtered horses. From somewhere downstairs a grandfather clock counts down the six in deep, melancholy tools, and, like a magnetic force, my eyes are drawn with a terrible irresistibility to to the door at the end of the corridor.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe hanging girl, Eileen Cook

Skye Thorn has given tarot card readings for years, and now her psychic visions are helping the police find the town’s missing golden girl. It’s no challenge—her readings have always been faked, but this time she has some insider knowledge. The kidnapping was supposed to be easy—no one would get hurt and she’d get the money she needs to start a new life. But a seemingly harmless prank has turned dark, and Skye realizes the people she’s involved with are willing to kill to get what they want and she must discover their true identity before it’s too late. (Goodreads)

First lines: Destiny is like a boulder. Bulky and hard to move. It’s easier to leave it alone than to try to change it. But that never kept anyone from trying. Trust me: I’m a professional.
Reading people is a talent. I’ve always been a good observer, but as with any natural ability, if you want to be any good, you’ve got to work at it. When I talk to people, I size them up. I listen to what they say, and, more important, to what they don’t.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe hundred lies of Lizzie Lovett, Chelsea Sedotti

A teenage misfit named Hawthorn Creely inserts herself in the investigation of missing person Lizzie Lovett, who disappeared mysteriously while camping with her boyfriend. Hawthorn doesn’t mean to interfere, but she has a pretty crazy theory about what happened to Lizzie. In order to prove it, she decides to immerse herself in Lizzie’s life. That includes taking her job… and her boyfriend. It’s a huge risk — but it’s just what Hawthorn needs to find her own place in the world. (Goodreads)

First lines: The first thing that happened was Lizzie Lovett disappeared, and everyone was all “How can someone like Lizzie be missing?” and I was like, “Who cares?” A few days later, there was talk about Lizzie maybe being dead, and it was still kinda boring, but not totally boring, because I’d never known a dead person before. After that, I started to get fascinated by the whole situation, mostly because I noticed a bunch of weird stuff. Which was how I figured out Lizzie Lovett’s secret.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsRules of rain, Leah Scheier

Rain has taken care of Ethan all of their lives. Before she even knew what autism meant, she was her twin brother’s connection to the world around him. Each day with Ethan is unvarying and predictable, and Rain takes comfort in being the one who holds their family together. It’s nice to be needed–to be the center of someone’s world. If only her longtime crush, Liam, would notice her too…Then one night, her life is upended by a mistake she can’t undo. Suddenly Rain’s new romance begins to unravel along with her carefully constructed rules. Rain isn’t used to asking for help–and certainly not from Ethan. But the brother she’s always protected is the only one who can help her. And letting go of the past may be the only way for Rain to hold onto her relationships that matter most. (Publisher information)

First lines: There’s a gigantic hologram of a human colon sitting where the refrigerator once stood. I stare at it for a moment and lean my head back to appreciate the flickering image. With veins, with veins…it’s almost hypnotic, the tilting shift of images on the shiny board. I’m not surprised to find it there.

New graphic novel spotlight: The unbelievable Gwenpool

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe unbelievable Gwenpool, written by Chris Hastings, artists Danilo Beyruth, Gurihiru

What happens when a comic book fan is suddenly blasted into the Marvel Universe? Utter chaos – imagine Deadpool as a teenage girl. Her costume is pink, she has no plans and for a for a while her closest ally is a talking duck. (That would be Howard the Duck, last seen in the post credits scene in Guardians of the Galaxy). Then she gets a job as a freelance assassin, then as a henchmen for a major player in the MU – encountering various other Marvel heroes and villains along the way. I’m looking forward to Gwen’s further adventures…

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsIn real life, Lawrence Tabak

Fifteen-year-old math prodigy Seth Gordon knows exactly what he wants to do with his life—play video games. Every spare minute is devoted to honing his skills at Starfare, the world’s most popular computer game. His goal: South Korea, where the top pros are rich and famous. But the best players train all day, while Seth has school and a job and divorced parents who agree on only one thing: “Get off that damn computer.” Plus there’s a new distraction named Hannah, an aspiring photographer who actually seems to understand his obsession.
While Seth mopes about his tournament results and mixed signals from Hannah, Team Anaconda, one of the leading Korean pro squads, sees something special. Before he knows it, it’s goodbye Kansas, goodbye Hannah, and hello to the strange new world of Korea. But the reality is more complicated than the fantasy, as he faces cultural shock, disgruntled teammates, and giant pots of sour-smelling kimchi. What happens next surprises Seth. Slowly, he comes to make new friends, and discovers what might be a breakthrough, mathematical solution to the challenges of Starcraft. Delving deeper into the formulas takes him in an unexpected direction, one that might just give him a new focus—and reunite him with Hannah. (Goodreads)

First lines: School called. Again. Unexcused absence, blah, blah blah. My interception rate on these calls is eighty-four percent (This is Seth’s father, how can I help you?) But they called Dad while I was at Mom’s.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSkink no surrender, Carl Hiaasen

Classic Malley—to avoid being shipped off to boarding school, she takes off with some guy she met online. Poor Richard—he knows his cousin’s in trouble before she does. Wild Skink—he’s a ragged, one-eyed ex-governor of Florida, and enough of a renegade to think he can track Malley down. With Richard riding shotgun, the unlikely pair scour the state, undaunted by blinding storms, crazed pigs, flying bullets, and giant gators.

First lines: I walked down to the beach and waited for Malley, but she didn’t show up. The ocean breeze felt warm. Two hours I say there on the sand – no Malley. In the beginning it was just annoying, but after a while I began to worry that something was wrong. My cousin, in spite of out all of her issues, is a punctual person.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsJackaby, William Ritter

Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary–including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police–with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane–deny. (Goodreads)

First lines: It was late January, and New England wore a fresh coat of snow as I stepped along the gangplank to the shore. The city of New Fiddleham glistened in the fading dusk, lamplight playing across the icy buildings that lined the waterfront, turning their brickwork to twinkling diamonds in the dark.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsRites of passage, Joy N. Hensley

Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she’s not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.
So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She’s even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won’t risk her future, or the dare, on something so petty…no matter how much she wants him. As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out. At any cost. (Goodreads)

First lines: I’m physically incapable of saying no to a dare – I’ve got the scars and broken bone count to prove it. And that fatal flaw, Bad Habit #1, is the reason I’m sitting in the car with my parents right now, listening to some small-town radio DJ talk smack about me.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Mark of Cain, Lindsey Barraclough

1567
Aphra is not a normal child. Found abandoned as a baby among the reeds and rushes, the two outcast witches who raise her in their isolated cottage are never sure if she was born, or just pushed up through the foul, black mud for them to find. Little Aphra’s gifts in the dark craft are clear, even as an infant, but soon even her guardians begin to fear her. When a violent fire destroys their home, Aphra is left to fend for herself. Years of begging and stealing make her strong, but they also make her bitter, for she is shunned and feared by everyone she meets. Until she reaches Bryers Guerdon and meets the man they call Long Lankin – the leper. Ostracized and tormented, he is the only person willing to help her. And together, they plot their revenge.
1962
Four years have passed since the death of Ida Guerdon, and Cora is back in Bryers Guerdon in the manor house her aunt left to her. It is a cold, bitter winter, and the horrifying events of that sweltering summer in 1958 seem long past.
Until Cora’s father arranges for some restoration work to take place at Guerdon Hall, and it seems that something hidden there long ago has been disturbed. The spirit of Aphra Rushes – intent on finishing what she began, four centuries ago.(Goodreads)

First lines: We hurry through the wood along the narrow dirt path that runs by the edge of the brook. Zillah’s swollen-knuckled old fingers grip my small hand as I stumble alongside her.
“Keep up, child. We have to make haste,” she urges. “It is not so good for us to be so close to the watermen. We must take care not to be seen.”

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSchizo, Nic Sheff

Miles is the ultimate unreliable narrator—a teen recovering from a schizophrenic breakdown who believes he is getting better . . . when in reality he is growing worse. Driven to the point of obsession to find his missing younger brother, Teddy, and wrapped up in a romance that may or may not be the real thing, Miles is forever chasing shadows. As Miles feels his world closing around him, he struggles to keep it open, but what you think you know about his world is actually a blur of gray, and the sharp focus of reality proves startling. (Goodreads)

First lines: It’s starting again. There’s a sound like an airplane descending loudly in my ear. I can’t quite place it. The sweat is cold down my back. I feel my heart beat faster. My hands shake. God, I can’t take it.

Graphic Novels

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsShe-Hulk #1: law and disorder, Charles Soule (writer), Javier Pulido and Ron Wimberly (artists)

Jennifer Walters is the She-Hulk! A stalwart member of the Avengers and FF, she’s also a killer attorney with a pile of degrees and professional respect. But juggling cases and kicking bad guy butt is a little more complicated than she anticipated. With a new practice, a new paralegal and a mounting number of super villains she’s racking up as personal enemies, She Hulk might have bitten off more than she can chew! When Kristoff Vernard, the son of Victor Von Doom, seeks extradition, it’s an international jailbreak, She-Hulk-style! Then, She-Hulk and Hellcat must uncover the secrets of the Blue File — a conspiracy that touches the entire Marvel Universe! And when someone important to She-Hulk is killed, and won’t let it stand — but who can she trust? She-Hulk takes on her most terrifying role yet: defendant! (Goodreads)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Wrenchies, Farel Dalrymple

Meet the Wrenchies.
They’re strong, powerful, and if you cross them, things will quickly go very badly for you. Only one thing scares them—growing up. Because in the world of the Wrenchies, it’s only kids who are safe… anyone who survives to be an adult lives in constant fear of the Shadowsmen. All the teenagers who come into contact with them turn into twisted, nightmarish monsters whose minds are lost forever. When Hollis, an unhappy and alienated boy, stumbles across a totem that gives him access to the parallel world of the Wrenchies, he finally finds a place where he belongs. But he soon discovers that the feverish, post-apocalyptic world of the Wrenchies isn’t staying put… it’s bleeding into Hollis’s normal, real life. Things are getting very scary, very fast.

Winging Your Way Through The Weekend, 11-12 May

Brr! What a week. Floods, a (very tiny) earthquake and although the great day star showered us in splendour the mercury hasn’t climbed very high. It’s probably safer indoors with weekend warmers. We’re going for a blog in two halves today Wellington’s what’s on closely followed by a continuation of last weeks NZ music scrape over.

The New Zealand International Comedy Festival is in its final weeks and the hilarious “The Boy With Tape On His Face” performs in Downstage Theatre Friday night. 
 
Our friendly neighbours Lower Hutt have some sweet badge making going down for Youth Week at The Dowse Gallery if you’d like to pimp your bag, hat or jacket for free. Here’s a full run down of Youth Week events in the region.
 
Want to get inside a navy ship and see what goes down? HMNZS Wellington will be open up for your viewing pleasure on Queens Wharf this Saturday. Don’t forget the sea legs.

There’s also a fascinating film festival in town this weekend. Documentary Edge Festival 2013 has all sorts of interesting offerings including Only The Young a study in youth and coming of age. 
This week we’ll take a look at the “naughties” (2000-2009) for the weekend playlist. At times you could’ve been forgiven for thinking that music had taken a turn for the worst this decade. International offerings like Axel F’s totem to annoyance Crazy Frog weasled themselves to number one. Reality superstar competitions started to change the face of how musicians are made (you web-savvy folk may’ve already encountered Dave Grohl’s thoughts about these competitions via meme). Here in New Zealand we had a go. Yes we did. New Zealand Idol delivered us (briefly) Ben Lummis and Michael Murphy, we also got Stan ‘yous’ Walker through Aussie Idol. The decade had gems, don’t get me wrong. The star of the decade was a (then) young rapper from Christchurch, Scribe. He dominated 2003’s charts with his debut single Stand Up. Hip Hop/R&B were the champion genres across the airwaves with acts like Savage (with Swing), Dei Hamo (We Gon’ Ride), swaggy Dane Rumble in his past life act Misfits Of Science, Nesian Mystik, P-Money (who has some new stuff too!) and Smashproof. Our other genres did well with Fur Patrol, Goodshirt, Atlas, Tiki Taane & company keeping the singles chart kiwi. Some other favourites include Stellar*, Zed, Salmonella Dub, Che Fu, The Datsuns, Fat Freddy’s Drop and Anika Moa. Many of these artists albums are still lingering in our CD collection, if any take your fancy have a dig through their discographies.
 
Here’s a kiwi music video treasure from the decade to take us out, cue Kora and their EPIC anime video for Skankenstein.

Top 10: Zombies

Can you take a zombie seriously? Sometimes yes, sometimes no (it depends largely on whether there is supposed to be kissing).

Seriously:

This is Not a Test, Courtney Summers – this book is a horror story: imagine being trapped inside your school building with five other students, with moaning masses of the undead outside, lying in wait, when you know it’s only a matter of time before the water supply runs dry, you eat your last food, and face the prospect of either starving to death or running the zombie gauntlet outside, to who knows where. What makes it worse is how the horror plays out in the way that you and your schoolmates cope. And then, when you think you’ve barricaded the school building enough, someone gets in.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Carrie Ryan – to quote an earlier post: “Mary lives in a fenced village in the middle of the forest of hands and teeth; fenced, because the forest of hands and teeth is peopled with zombies (the Unconsecrated) with an undying drive to bite. When the village’s fortifications are compromised Mary must flee in the ensuing chaos, down the paths that run through the forest, following mysterious symbols that might lead her to the sea she dreams of.”

Rot & Ruin, Jonathan Maberry – the School Library Journal likes this series, perhaps even better than The Forest of Hands and Teeth: they say it “appears to be a retelling of Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth but with a male protagonist. But Maberry’s vision of a zombie-infested future has more action, more violence, and more emotional depth” (School Library Journal). It must be good then! Instead of a forest, here there’s the Rot and Ruin where – Benny (the male protagonist) learns – the zombies actually aren’t even the scariest prospect. 

The Enemy, Charlie Higson – the latest in the series (The Sacrifice) has recently arrived. When a sickness sweeps through London, affecting everyone over the age of 14, leaving them either (mercifully) dead or the walking undead, those under 14 find themselves in a fight to survive. Some, sensibly, hole up in supermarkets (the lucky ones in Waitrose, which is quite posh), while they must attempt to make their way to the relative safety of Buckingham Palace. But if they get to Buckingham Palace, what will they find? A zombie queen? Or something more problematic? We should’t be too flip: this one’s grim and doesn’t pull any punches.

Not quite as seriously:

Dearly Departed, Lia Habel – this series is called “Gone with the Respiration” (a salute to Gone With the Wind), so I think it’s safe to say it’s a bit fun. “Love conquers all, so they say. But can Cupid’s arrow pierce the hearts of the living and the dead – or rather, the undead? Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie?” (Goodreads.com). This brings a whole new meaning to the expression “undying love”.

You Are So Undead to Me, Stacey Jay – the first in the series about Megan Berry, Zombie Settler. Homecoming (and people’s lives) are in peril when someone starts using black magic to turn the average, bumbling undead of an Arkansas town into souped-up zombies. Can Megan save the day? Can she what! (I’m picking).

I Kissed a Zombie and I Liked It, Adam Selzer – take that Katy Perry. Ali meets the mysterious Doug – a strong, silent, Goth-type of singer – and falls madly in love with him before, doh, someone points out he’s actually a zombie. Naturally Doug’s mysteriousness is not all that attractive any more, but when Ali tries to dump him she learns it’s not so easy to get rid of a zombie. She also learns, along the way, that vampires don’t like their music being critiqued.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Seth Grahame-Smith – I think you have to give credit to someone who basically invents a new genre in the 21st century. This was the first Classic Novel Horror Mashup, and there’s a bunch of others, including Romeo and Juliet, Sense and Sensibility, and P & P & Z even has it’s own sequels and prequels. Excellent.

A mixed bag:

Zombie Blondes, Brian James – Hannah is the new girl in a town where the many houses for sale and the, well, deathly quiet suggest something’s wrong. Hannah seems oblivious on her first day of school, when she meets the popular crowd: a group of cheerleaders who all look remarkably the same, and who Hannah really wants to be like.

Zombies Versus Unicorns – more to the point, can you take a unicorn seriously? One or two writers have had a crack at it in this oddly fab collection of short stories.

New Books!

Here are the first batch of new books for the year. Please come and take them so we have some space on our shelves. But return them! And take some more! That is how libraries work.

Assault – Recon Team Angel, by Brian Faulkner (365 pages) – This is the first in a series set in the future (2030!) when we are at war with aliens. Recon Team Angel is an elite multinational group of teens who have been training for years. On X-Boxes, haha. Nah, joke. “Haha.” Their first mission; to sneak behind enemy lines and get into a top-secret alien facility.

First lines: ‘This is not a history book. The achievements of 4th Reconnaisannce Team (designation: Angel) of the Allied Combined Operation Group 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, from November 2030 through to July 2035, during the Great Bzadian War, are well documented by scholars and historians.

Equinox – The Rosie Black Chronicles Book Two, by Lara Morgan – It is five centuries into the future, most of Australia is submerged, and ‘Rosie’s dad is locked away, Pip has abandoned her, and Riley isn’t telling her the full story. Bent on revenge, Rosie is still working in secret to try and take down the evil Helios group. But what sacrifices is she prepared to make to destroy Helios?’ SO many names

First line: ‘Rosie took a steadying breath, licked her finger and touched it to her eye. The identification-distorter lens stuck to her skin and she lifted off her iris.

Stealing Phoenix, by Joss Stirling (265 pages) – Phoenix is part of a group of thieves with paranormal powers (they are quite cool but I won’t ruin it for you), and she is set to rob Yves Benedict, an American student visiting London. But lo! she discovers that he is ‘her destiny’ and ‘her soulmate’, and as there is no room for love amongst thieves, Phoenix must save herself and Yves. Which is pronounced like ‘Eve’ so you know.

First lines: ‘The boy seemed the perfect target. He stood at the back of a group taking the tour of the London Olympic stadium, attention on the construction vehicles beetling up the huge ramp to the athletes’ entrance, not on the thief watching him.

Outlaw, by Stephen Davies (236 pages) – Jake is fifteen and is sent to live with his parents in North Africa after getting into trouble one too many times at his English boarding school. Unfortunately he is kidnapped by Yakuuba Sor, the most wanted outlaw in the Sahara desert. Is he a terrorist or is he more like Robin Hood, without a forest?

First lines: ‘Jake Knight ran along the deserted towpath past Armley Mills and the Industrial Museum. It was two o’clock in the morning and he was so far out of bounds it was not even funny.

Good Fortune, by Noni Carter (489 pages) – Ayanna Bahati is brutally taken from her African village and brought to America, as a slave on a plantation. It’s a very dangerous life, but she’s able to secretely teach herself to read and write. Later she risks everything and escapes, heading north where she can be free and get an education; ‘can she shed the chains of her harrowing past to live the life she has longed for?

First lines: ‘His hand came down upon my cheek hard and fast. Stunned, I staggered backward.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, by Jennifer E. Smith (236 pages) – Hadley is stuck at JFK airport after missing her flight to London. She meets Oliver, a Brit, who is also on the same flight as her. They talk and he’s pretty perfect, so they fall in love. Love! There when you least expect it, like a northerly gale in summer. Anyway, they lose track of each other once they land – can serendipity bring them back together? Is that the right word? A romantic comedy!

First line: ‘There are so many ways it could have all turned out differently.

Bittersweet, by Sarah Ockler (378 pages) – Hudson was a pretty swell ice skater, but when her parents divorced when she was fourteen, she ditches the sport and makes cupcakes for her mother’s upscale diner. But when she starts coaching the boys’ ice hockey team she rethinks her choices re: ice skating and taking chances with her life. Also a cute boy comes along.

First line: ‘It was the biggest competition night of my life, but all I could think about was the cheetah bra.

The Song of the Quarkbeast : A Last Dragonslayer Novel, by Jasper Fforde (290 pages) – This is the sequel to The Last Dragonslayer, which I didn’t read but DO know was very good. Fforde’s books are very difficult to put down, and why shouldn’t this be an exception.

First lines: ‘I work in the magic industry. I think you’ll agree it’s pretty glamorous: a life full of spells, potions and whispered enchantments; of levitation, vanishings and alchemy.

Anna Dressed in Blood, by Kendare Blake (316 pages) – Cas Lowood kills the dead. He travels the country with his mother, a witch, and their spirit-sniffing cat, listening to local lore and legend. They go to kill a ghost called Anna Dressed in Blood (she’s covered in blood you know), who has killed everyone who has gone to get her. Except Cas, for some reason? Read to find out!

First line: ‘The grease-slicked hair is a dead giveaway – no pun intended.

Here is a pretty funny spoof trailer for The Hunger Games. Thanks for reading this far. I appreciate it.

Virtuosity, by Jessica Martinez (294 pages) – ‘Just before the most important violin competition of her career, seventeen-year-old prodigy Carmen faces critical decisions about her anti-anxiety drug addiction, her controlling mother, and a potential romance with her most talented rival,’ says the catalogue. Can’t beat the catalogue for a precise synopsis.

First line: ‘The balcony felt cold under my cheek.’

Paradise, by Joanna Nadin (262 pages) – Billie Paradise inherits her grandmother’s house, which is by the sea, and a definite improvement on the rental flat she lives in with her mum. But living in her mum’s childhood home dredges up secrets that might be best kept undregded. Buried. Underground.

First line: ‘We all have secrets.

New Books – ‘spongy blades collapsing’

You guys, here are some more new books!

12 Things To Do Before You Crash and Burn, by James Proimos (121 pages) – Hercules Martino is 16, and the son of a recently deceased famous self-help guru who was no good as a dad. Staying with his uncle for Summer, Hercules is set twelve tasks that will ‘change the way he sees his past, present, and future.’ A book that is short, funny (as promised by Library Journals LLC) and in all likelihood a satisfying read.

First lines: ‘The casket is close. It was a plane crash, after all.

Light Beneath Ferns, by Anne Spollen (206 pages) – Here’s another not-so-long book; this time a ghost story, not a comedy. Elizah moves in with her mother, who is a caretaker at a cemetery. She finds a human jawbone by a river (!!!) and, at the cemetery, she meets Nathaniel, who is mysterious and, you know, maybe not all there. LITERALLY. Fans of supernatural romance probably won’t be disappointed.

First lines: ‘This story does not teach a lesson. It does not explain gravity or the pack rituals of wolves or how the sun will explode one day and leave us all inside a gray welt of ice and famine.

Down the Mysterly River, by Bill Willingham (333 pages) – Max “the Wolf” is a champion boy scout who – inexplicably! – wakes up in a strange forest with no memory of how he got there. With him is a badger, a bear, and a barn cat who are similarly clueless but can talk. They realise that they are being hunted, and it’s up to Max to solve the mystery of what’s what. This is by the writer of the Fables comics, with drawings by the comic artist throughout. ~the more you know~

First line: ‘Max the Wolf was a wolf in exactly the same way that foothills are made up of real feet and a tiger shark is part tiger, which is to say, not at all.

Vintage Veronica, by Erica S. Perl (279 pages) – Fifteen-year-old Veronica gets a summer job in the Clothing Bonanza, a second-hand clothing store. She is pretty happy about that! She loves fashion, and her job is to sort out the quality stuff from the rubbish, and she doesn’t have to deal with customers (she has low self-esteem). Two ‘outrageous yet charismatic’ salesgirls befriend her and encourage her to stalk the stock boy as a joke. Soon Veronica realises she will need to come out of her (proverbial! obviously) shell when romance blossoms.

First lines: ‘I’m sure you don’t know me. But you’ve probably seen me around. I’m that fat girl. You know, the one who dresses funny. The one who wears those ridiculous poufy skirts from the fifties that look like she hacked off the top of an old prom dress (because actually, I did).

How to Save a Life, by Sara Zarr (341 pages) – Here is the catalogue synopsis for what might be a little grim but ultimately uplifting book; ‘Told from their own viewpoints, seventeen-year-old Jill, in grief over the loss of her father, and Mandy, nearly nineteen, are thrown together when Jill’s mother agrees to adopt Mandy’s unborn child but nothing turns out as they had anticipated.’  

First line: ‘Dad would want me to be here. There’s no other explanation for my presence.

Kiss of Death, by Lauren Henderson (307 pages) – This is the final book in the series that began with Kiss Me Kill Me. Unfortunately we don’t seem to have the second and third books in the series! We will buy them. IN THE MEANTIME, here’s a brutal abridgement of the catalogue synopsis: ‘Scarlett [and] Taylor arrive in Scotland […] Old friends and enemies […] explore […] passages under Edinburgh […] [and] someone is out to get [Scarlett] […] and that person has deadly plans for her. Is it time to kiss our heroine goodbye?’

First line: ‘This is absolutely the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.

The Espressologist, by Kristina Springer (184 pages) – Jane is seventeen and a barista  (someone who makes coffee). She has a theory that you can tell a lot about someone by the coffee they drink*, and she uses this to set people up on dates. She’s pretty good at it, so her boss develops it as an instore promotion. BUT she matches her best friend with Cam, which in hindsight was silly since she maybe is a little bit in love with him?
*Probably wouldn’t work in NZ where we all drink flat whites, pretty much

First line: ‘“Excuse me,” the customer says, stepping up to the counter. I quickly stop scribbling in my notebook and slide it onto the shelf under the espresso machine.

The Warlock ‘s Shadow, by Stephen Deas (291 pages) – The follow-up to The Thief-Taker’s Apprentice. When the thief-taker is hired to protect a prince, Berren (the apprentice) is pleased to get away from the tedium at the temple. He meets a girl, who happens to be a Dragon Monk, the best sword fighters ever to wield a sword. But the prince needs protection for a reason – people want to kill him and anyone who stands in their way, including young Berren. Especially Berren! Maybe

First line: ‘Kasmin didn’t see the three men come into the tavern but he knew they were there almost at once.

Unleashed : Wolf Springs Chronicles, by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie (385 pages) – Katelyn moves to a new town, to live with her grandfather in the middle of a forest. Her new school is Wolf Springs High. Judging from the cover and the blurb on the back that says, ‘a dark exciting tale that will have you believing in werewolves,’ I am willing to bet this is about werewolves! Book one in a series

First lines: ‘I can fly. Katelyn Claire McBride was the girl on the flying trapeze.

Hunters : Phantom – The Vampire Diaries, not really by L. J. Smith (413 pages) – This is a brand-new VD story. Apparently it was written by a ghostwriter, since the publisher who holds the copyright fired L. J. Smith. That seems a bit strange actually! Anyway, Damon is dead, Elena and Stefan can be together, but Elena dreams of Damon. And she loves him a little too. A lot maybe! Soon everyone is threatened by a new darkness.

First line: ‘Elena Gilbert stepped onto a smooth expanse of grass, the spongy blades collapsing beneath her feet.

Trailer Tuesday

Time for Trailer Tuesday, an occasional regular feature. “One day you’re in, and the next day you’re out” – Heidi Klum. 

The first trailer for The Avengers (the superhero group consisting of Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, and a few others without their own movies sadly but may have had bit parts in other films, who can remember, frankly?) is out. It is directed by Joss Whedon, who came up with Buffy. So it might be good! But he’s also responsible for The Dollhouse, so it might not be that good! (Sorry, Joss). Anyway, here it is.

Here’s the new video for Beyonce’s latest, Love on Top. Not a trailer, but who makes the rules? ME

A new trailer for the forthcoming Muppet film can be viewed here (along with all the others). It (the film, not the trailer) contains ‘mild rude humor,’ so you might want to be discrete.

War Horse, a Steven Spielberg film based on a Michael Morpurgo book, has a pretty epic trailer. At last; a film that will delight people who like horsies as well as fans of war films.

~ The END ~

New Books

We have loads of new books. We are overwhelmed! Something to do with the financial year ending, and budgets being spent. Today is the first day of the new financial year, so happy new financial year? Let us celebrate with some new YA fiction, as is traditional from times gone by.

Rot & Ruin, by Jonathan Maberry (458 pages) – It is the near future. And the world is no longer safe for anyone, thanks to a zombie apocalypse. Humans live in small settlements, and all teens have to start working at the age of 15 or they won’t get fed. Benny, who has just hit 15, reluctantly agrees to become a zombie-killing bounty hunter with his dull brother, Tom. What he thought would be a boring (!) job turns out to be … not boring at all.

First line: ‘Benny Imura couldn’t hold a job, so he took to killing.

The Betrayal of Maggie Blair, by Elizabeth Laird (423 pages) – Sixteen-year-old Maggie is accused of witchcraft, and flees for her life. For it is Scotland during the 1600s! Her grandmother, also accused, is hanged, so Maggie runs to her uncle’s place. Her uncle is part of a movement rebelling against the English crown, and she can not entirely escape her past (the whole ‘witch’ thing) when an old enemy puts in an appearance.

First line: ‘I was the first one to see the dead whale lying on the sand at Scalpsie bay.

You Killed Wesley Payne : A Novel, by Sean Beaudoin (359 pages) – Dalton Rev has just transferred to a new school. Dalton is a ‘hard-boiled PI’ and also seventeen, and he is going to take on his hardest case ever; to discover who killed Wesley Payne? A ‘smart, slick, and hilarious detective novel.’

First line: ‘Dalton Rev thundered into the parking lot of Salt River High, a squat brick building at the top of a grassless hill that looked more like the last stop of the hopeless than a springboard to the college of your choice.

Pull, by B. A. Binns (310 pages) – David is (understandably!) distraught after his father kills his mother, and he – and his sisters – move to a new, tough inner-city school in Chicago. He tries to make a new life for himself, all the while dealing with the burden of his grief, but ends up having to make a very difficult choice; to take a basketball scholarship, or quit school to work and support his family.

First line: ‘It’s fourth period, and so far not one teacher has questioned who I am.

Enclave, by Ann Aguirre (262 pages) – From the catalogue! ‘In a post-apocalyptic future, 15-year-old Deuce, a loyal Huntress, brings back meat while avoiding the Freaks outside her enclave, but when she is partnered with the mysterious outsider, Fade, she begins to see that the strict ways of the elders may be wrong – and dangerous.’ According to Publishers Weekly, this book is for fans of The Hunger Games. Which is nearly everyone! So you can’t go wrong.

First line: ‘I was born during the second holocaust.

Divergent, by Veronica Roth (487 pages) – Another dystopian story! This is the first in a series set in a future Chicago, where everyone at the age of 16 must choose one of five factions to join. Each faction is dedicated to a certain virtue. Beatrice Prior has to choose between staying with her family or being true to herself (i.e., she doesn’t belong to any one faction and is, in fact, a Divergent.) She very quickly discovers that her world isn’t as perfect as she thought. ‘Edgy,’ says Publishers Weekly. ‘Definately not for the fainthearted,’ they add.

First lines: ‘There is one mirror in my house. It is behind a sliding panel in the hallway upstairs.

How Lamar’s Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized  Trophy, by Crystal Allen (283 pages) – Thirteen-year-old Lamar is a champion ten-pin bowler, but he is overshadowed by his uber-talented basketball-playing older brother. Lamar has no luck with the ladies, either. So a scheme to make money backfires he ruins his brother’s chance at getting into college as well as every relationship in his life. How can he mend everything? How?! ‘Heartwarming and humorous.’

First line: ‘Since Saturday, I’ve fried Sergio like catfish, mashed him like potatoes, and creamed his corn in ten straight games of bowling.

Like Mandarin, by Kirsten Hubbard (388 pages) – Catalogue says, ‘When shy, awkward fourteen-year-old Grace Carpenter is paired with the beautiful and wild Mandarin on a school project, an unlikely, explosive friendship begins, but all too soon, Grace discovers that Mandarin is a very troubled, even dangerous, girl.’ Thanks, catalogue!

First line: ‘The winds in Washokey make people go crazy.

The Replacement, by Brenna Yovanoff (343 pages) – Mackie Doyle is a changeling, and was left in a human baby’s crib 16 years ago; although he would rather fit in to our world, all the iron, blood, and consecrated ground here are slowly killing him. When Tate – the girl he fancies – loses her baby sister, Mackie is drawn back to Mayhem to try to find her. Here’s the catalogue’s summary (I know I keep copying from it, but this sounds really good!); ‘“Edward Scissorhands” meets “The Catcher in the Rye” in this wildly imaginative and frighteningly beautiful horror novel about an unusual boy and his search for a place to belong.

First line: ‘I don’t remember any of the true, important parts, but there’s this dream I have.

The Lost Tohunga, by David Blair (368 pages) – Mat is on holiday in Taupo, and all he wants to do there is study and catch up with his magical mentor. But! Warlocks, determined to dominate the hidden land of Aoteoroa, seek Te Iho, and soon Mat is caught up in a deadly no-holds-barred struggle. This is the sequel to The Taniwha’s Tear, itself the sequel to The Bone Tiki

First line: ‘Auckland, 1956 – Whenever the girl heard the crunch of boots on the gravel path outside, she imagined that her father had come to take her away.

More New Books

We have a few new books that continue already established series. I won’t go into too much detail about each (just because) but your favourite vampire/werewolf/spy series may be one of them.

Awakened : A House of Night Novel (Book 8 ), by P.C and Kirstin Cast (290 pages)
Demon Games : Changeling (Book 4), by Steve Feasey (343 pages)
Only The Good Spy Young : The Gallagher Girls (Book 4), by Ally Carter (265 pages)
Twelfth Grade Kills : The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod (Book 5), by Heather Brewer (325 pages)
Keys To the Repository : Blue Bloods (sort of a tie-in to the series), by Melissa de la Cruz (227 pages)

Here are the other new books!

A Waltz for Matilda, by Jackie French (479 pages) – This is a novelisation of the poem that is also a song (which I used to think was Australia’s nation anthem, oddly) about Matilda, her father (the swagman!), the billabong, and ‘Australia’s early years as an emerging nation.’

First lines: ‘August 1894 – Dear Dad, I hope you are well.

Whisper My Name, by Jane Eagland (394 pages) – A spooky book about Meriel, who lives with her strict Victorian grandfather. It is a solitary life but she’s not always alone – someone is ‘reaching out to her, someone who is close than she thinks …’

First line: ‘Meriel decided to place her deckchair as far as she could from Mrs Fitzgerald’s, but still within earshot.

Hit List, by Jack Heath (256 pages) – Teenager Ash and her pal Benjamin find stolen artifacts and return them to their owners for a fee. But when they’re asked to rescue a captive girl they soon find themselves up against corrupt governments, ruthless corporations, and assassins. Assassins! 

First lines: ‘Practice. It would take practice, but it could be done.

The Exiled Queen : A Seven Realms Novel, by Cinda Williams Chima (586 pages) – This is the second book in the series. We wrote about the first one here. In this installment, according to the catalogue, ‘two teenagers, one fleeing from a forced marriage and the other from a dangerous family of wizards, cross paths and fall in love.’

First line: ‘Lietenant Mac Gillen of the Queen’s Guard of the Fells hunched his shoulders against the witch wind that howled out of the frozen wastelands to the north and west.’

Send Simon Savage, by Stephen Measday (266 pages) – Simon is thirteen when his father drowns. A secret government agency then tells him that he has the right DNA to handle the rigours of time travel, and he will be the first to travel into the future. Which he does! His missions are risky, but someone has to do it.

First line: ‘Simon spent a great Saturday body boarding with a few mates in rolling surf at the southern end of Bondi Beach.

Solitary : Escape from Furnace, by Alexander Gordon Smith (232 pages) – This is the sequel to Lockdown. Alex Sawyer attemped to escape from Furnace prison, where he has been imprisoned on false charges, but he failed and is now in solitary confinement. ‘… hurtle from thrill to chill in this rocket-paced prison-break odyssey where nightmares are made.’ Yeow!

First lines: ‘I have a confession. I’m not a good person.’

The Last Dragonslayer, by Jasper Fforde (281 pages) – Back in the day magic was powerful, but now it’s regulated by the government and it’s cheaper for people to get things done non-magically. But! Fifteen-year-old Jennifer, who runs an employment agency for magicians and soothsayers, begins to have visions that hint at dragons and Big Magic. (Fforde is a very funny writer, and has a lot of quality books in the adult section. Let me recommend them to you.)

First line: ‘It looked set to become even hotter by the afternoon, just when the job was becoming more fiddly and needed extra concentration.

New Books

Carter’s Big Break, by Brent Crawford (231 pages) – This is the follow-up to Carter Finally Gets It. Will Carter has survived his freshman year at high school, and has somehow been cast in a film opposite Hollywood teen actress, Hilary Idaho.

First line: ‘On the last day of school, I’m happily strolling down the hall after Mr. Rumpford’s ridiculously hard algebra final.

Somewhere in Blue, by Gillian Cummings (334 pages) – Sandy’s father has died and she wallows in grief. Her mother seems to be coping a bit too well, and Sandy also distances herself from her best friend, who in turn has a difficult relationship with her mother. “An intense story of loss and shifting relationships.”

First line: ‘Something about the waves, something about their blue-gray depths, had been flowing down into Sandy, rushing in to fill a gaping hole.

The Selected, by Patrick Cave (405 pages) – This is a prequel/sequel to Sharp North (or is it the other way round? or both?). The setting is a futuristic Britain ruled by Great Families who keep spare clones of themselves. Climate change and a fascistic government mean life is a raw deal for everyone else.

First lines: ‘Dawn in the mountains. The first iron heat gathering, shimmering in bands across hard, thirsty slopes.

Anastasia’s Secret, by Susanne Dunlap (330 pages) – Anastasia Romanova was a daughter of the last Tsar of Russia, who, along with his family, were killed by the Bolsheviks after the Russian Revolution. History is grim! However! There is some doubt as to their fates, and this book is “a haunting vision of the life – and imagined love story – of Russia’s last princess.”

First lines: ‘We are surrounded by guards. Not the nice ones; the ones we don’t like, who make us bow to them, make us show our identity cards and take a long time to examine them, even though they know perfectly well who we are and that we haven’t been anywhere outside of the Governer’s House in Tobolsk for months.

Stravaganza : City of Ships, by Mary Hoffman (348 pages) – The fifth book in The Stravaganza Sequence, about time travelling teens who end up in Talia, a country in a parallel world, much like 16th-century Italy. But with pirates!

First line: ‘If she raised herself slightly from the stool she sat on, Flavia could see the masts of ships in the harbour.

Radiance, by Alyson Noël (183 pages) – Riley Bloom dies in a car crash, and ffins herself in an afterlife where she gets a job as a Soul Catcher. Some spirits don’t want to move on, and her first task to to find one such spirit. Also! Her dog died with her so he’s there as well.

First line: ‘Most people think that death is the end.

I Shall Wear Midnight, by Terry Pratchett (249 pages) – The latest in a long line of Discworld novels. Tiffany is a witch, and isn’t finding the job too glamorous. The fightin’ Nac Mac Feegles aren’t helping either.

First line: ‘Why was it, Tiffany Aching wondered, that people liked noise so much? Why was noise so important?

Burning Mountain, by L. J. Adlington (315 pages) – Vesuvius, Pompeii, Italy during WWII and the Afghan War are all connected in this book.

First line: ‘Drenched in grey ash, grazed by a rain of rock, Gaius Justinius Aquila staggered along the beach, eyes wide at all the horrors.

Fierce September, by Fleur Beale (358 pages) – Book two of the Juno series. ‘Juno and the Taris inhabitants must leave their dying island to live on the Outside, a seemingly hostile place of pandemics and conflict. Juno enjoys the new freedoms and choices now available to her in a future New Zealand. But Taris doesn’t give up its hold so easily, and she is shocked to find the island held more secrets than any of them knew.’

The Eternal Ones, by Kirsten Miller (410 pages) – Not a reference to vampires, thank goodness, but rather people who are reincarnated repeatedly. I think! Take a gander at the official website and watch the trailer.

First line: ‘Haven was back.

Top Ten: Comedy DVDs

 There is a Comedy DVD display in the YA area of the Central Library at the moment, this list is an online companion piece.

  1. Cool Runnings – Not only hilarious, it’s emotional too. Someone at Teen Blog HQ admits to getting choked up at the end of this one, others just enjoy Doug E. Doug’s antics.
  2. Mean Girls – Lindsay Lohan is mean, and funny!
  3. Superbad – Unpopular kids try to find girlfriends, general ineptitude interferes and provides lulz.
  4. High School Musical – You have probably all seen this, and as such any description of plot etc. is surplus to requirements.
  5. The Mask – Jim Carrey puts on a magical green mask and turns into what pretty much amounts to a living cartoon. Visual gags aplenty.
  6. 17 Again – The dreamy Zac Efron plays a man who magically gets turned from a forty-something loser into, well, the dreamy Zac Efron. All sorts of rofl-tastic capers ensue.
  7. Legally Blonde – Reese Witherspoon plays the stereotypical blonde valley girl in a fish out of water scenario where she goes and studies law at an ivy league school. Hijinks follow.
  8. School Of Rock – Jack Black teaches kids how to be in a rock band by shouting, waving his arms around and acting manic.
  9. Dude, Where’s My Car – Ashton Kutcher wakes up after a big night out and realises his car is missing. Then he is confused for pretty much an entire day.
  10. Adventureland – A quirky rom-com set in and around a theme-park.

Lots of New Books

Yes. There are lots of new books! Read them all, that’s my challenge.

Legacies : A Shadow Grail Novel, by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill (320 pages) – This is the first book in the Shadow Grail series, about a teen girl named Spirit White, whose family die and she’s shipped off to Oakhurst Academy. Everyone there is some sort of magic user! Students start disappearing, and a mystery has got to be solved.

First lines: ‘Someone was moaning. Spirit wished whoever it was would be quiet.

Dark Life, by Kat Falls (297 pages) – The oceans have risen, and people either live on the tiny pieces of land or deep under the ocean. The ocean is a rough, dangerous place to live! Ty and Gemma find themselves venturing into this underwater frontier (for noble reasons!) and discover some dark secrets.

First lines: ‘I peered into the deep-sea canyon, hoping to spot qa toppled skyscraper. Maybe even the Statue of Liberty.

Juggling Fire, Joanne Bell (171 pages) – Rachel grew up in the mountains in Yukon, but she has to move to the city. Then her father disappears, and Rachel – wanting to know why – hikes back through the mountains, where she must confront danger (bears!) and the past.

First line: ‘Mom doesn’t cry when I heave the packs from the pickup; she only blinks hard, squeezes my shoulders and whirls around, like she has to get away from me fast.

Crawlers, by Same Enthoven (261 pages) – Nine kids go to the theatre to see a play and in one evening of sheer horror they encounter some sinister and disgusting mind-controlling hairless, blubbery spidery-octopus things. I will never eat takoyaki again!

First line: ‘In the dark pit that had been my prison for almost three hundred and fifty years, Steadman’s latest victim was regaining consciousness.

Indigo Blues, by Danielle Joseph (231 pages) – Adam is an indie music sensation, and Indigo is the girl who dumped him. He subsequently wrote a song about her, and now she is almost as famous as he is. She’s not too pleased! And he’s still calling her, and she’s like, no way.

First line: ‘When I found out that “Indigo Blues” hit number one on the Billboard charts this morning, I ran to the bathroom and threw up.

The Alchemist and the Angel, by Joanne Owen (224 pages) – It is the 16th century, and Jan, an alchemist’s apprentice, is searching for the elixir of life. He travels to Prague, a city rich with alchemy and corruption, and while there he meets a mysterious girl (the ‘Angel of the Ghetto’). This book is beautifully illustrated!

First line: ‘Emperor Rudolf II – Ruler of the World, Aficionado of Alchemy, Collector of Curiosities – shifted in his throne.’

My Rocky Romance Diary by Kelly Ann, (really) by Liz Rettig (313 pages) – The saga of Kelly Ann’s romantic life continues in this, the fourth of her diaries.

First line: ‘First day of term and Mum woke me up at eight but I’d two free periods first thing so I mumbled ‘Leavemealoneandgoaway’.

Reality Check, by Jen Calonita (277 pages) – Catalogue says, ‘When a television executive signs Long Island sixteen-year-old Charlie and her three best friends to be the stars of a new reality television show, their lives are suddenly not the same.’

First line: ‘It’s only 3:47 PM. How can that be? It feels like I’ve been here for hours, not just forty-seven minutes.’

The Fire Opal, by Regina McBride (293 pages) – ‘While invading English soldiers do battle in sixteenth-century Ireland, Maeve grows up with a mystical connection to a queen who, centuries before, faced enemies of her own.’ Thanks, Catalogue!

First line: ‘When I was seven years old, my mother and I spent a July afternoon on the foreshore collecting kelp, which we planned to dry and burn for summer fires.

Notes From The Dog, by Gary Paulsen (133 pages) – Okay, this is from the Catalogue again: ‘When Johanna shows up at the beginning of summer to house-sit next door to Finn, he has no idea of the profound effect she will have on his life by the time summer vacation is over.’

First line: ‘Sometimes having company is not all it’s cracked up to be.’

So Punk Rock (And Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother), by Micol Ostow (Art by David Ostow) (246 pages) – Ari Abramson’s band, made up of four teens from a wealthy Jewish school, suddenly become popular overnight. They now must navigate the ‘minefield of inflated egos, misplaced romance, and the shallowness of indie-rock elitism.’ Comedy!

First line: ‘There are many things that Jonas Fein does well.

Freak Magnet, by Andrew Auseon (297 pages) – Gloria is a ‘freak magnet’, and in fact keeps a record of all the weirdos who talk to her. Charlie is a freak, so it’s only a matter of time before he ends up in her Freak Folio. However! They’re both burdened by grief and loss*, and so form a connection.

* 🙁

First line: ‘When the world’s most beautiful woman walks into the room, it’s hard to keep from throwing up.

Runaway Storm, by D. E. Knobbe (223 pages) – This is the first in a series (there’s an excerpt of the next book included). Nate has stolen a kayak and has run (paddled?) away from home to some remote Canadian island. He encounters smugglers, real runaways, and a massive, deadly storm.

First lines: ‘Nate slouched out of the elevator and crossed the lobby of the apartment building. The apartment, this building, New York – they had never felt like home.

Beyond Evie, by Rebecca Burton (200 pages) – Charlotte’s life is pretty swell, apart from having lost her father and later falling in love (obsessively!) with Evie, who breaks her heart. ‘Perceptive,’ ‘powerful,’ and ‘psychologically intense’ (yet ‘optimistic’ also!).

First lines: ‘You, Evie, told me I was beautiful. I thought you meant you liked me, but I was wrong.

Two Good Thieves, by Daniel Finn (386 pages) – In the Third World slums in a city somewhere in South America, Demi and Baz fight for a better life in a ‘city of thieves’ in this fast-pace, gritty thriller. (It’s also published as She Thief, which we have as a new book this week.)

First lines: ‘The city’s burning. The city is always burning.

Tripwire, by Steve Cole and Chris Hunter (238 pages) – Fifteen-year-old Felix Smith is a soldier, a spy, and a covert bomb disposal expert. He works for ATLAS, who use teenagers for military operations (the enemy don’t expect teenagers!).

First line: ‘Got you. The sight of the bomb hit Felix like a punch in the guts.

Seth Baumgartner’s Love Manifesto, by Eric Luper (293 pages) – Seth’s girlfriend dumps him and his father is spotted out on a date with a woman who is not Seth’s mother. So Seth begins an anonymous podcast about the mysteries of love. Soon his life is picking up – he holds a job, makes new friends, and tracks down his father’s mystery date.

First lines: ‘“Come on Seth. Say something.” Veronica stares at me like I’m the one who should be doing the explaining – like I’m the one who just turned everything upside down.

Rush, by Jonathan Friesen (295 pages) – Jake loves taking risks, just to feel the rush. He’s offered a job with a group of firefighters who rappel into wildfires. Very risky! His friend and secret crush, Salome, gets caught up in taking risks also, and the consequences are devastating.

First lines: ‘“Pure insanity.” I whisper at the sky as sheets of rain sting my face.

Sea : A Novel, by Heidi R. Kling (327 pages) – A romance set in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami that struck Indonesia. Sienna Jones travels with her father to Asia to help with an internation relief team, and she meets the ‘most handsome boy she’s ever seen,’ Deni. He though his father died in the disaster but he learns that mightn’t be the case; together, they make the heartbreaking journey to the epicentre of the tsunami’s destruction.

First line: ‘I’m sitting alone on the other side of the world talking to a sea turtle that might be my mom.

The Six Rules of Maybe, by Deb Caletti (321 pages) – Scarlet spends all her time worrying about others, and trying to help them and fix their lives. Often when it means ignoring her own needs! But then she falls in love with her newly pregnant sister’s husband, and finds herself at the centre of a drama (and then some!) for the first time.

First line: ‘You could tell something was different about Juliet the moment she stepped out of the truck.

Smiling Jack, by Ken Catran (271 pages) – Robert’s well-respected father and uncle are killed in a road accident. He finds a defaced playing-card Jack at the accident site. Soon more people are dying, and the same card is found near each death. A murder mystery with a startling and unexpected twist!

First line: ‘Smiling Jack came into my life about ten-thirty, one November night.

Lies : A Gone Novel, by Michael Grant (447 pages) – This is the follow up to Gone and Hunger, about a world where all adults disappear and the remaining kids get all Lord of the Flies/Mad Max on one another. They also have powers! There are mutants, and dark supernatural forces.

First line: ‘Obscene graffiti. Smashed windows. Human Crew tags, their logo, along with warnings to freaks to get out.

Daniel X : Demons and Druids, by James Patterson and Adam Sadler (243 pages) – Alien hunter Daniel X travels to England with his friends to find Beta, an outlaw that takes the form of fire and who killed Daniels parents when he was a wee toddler. Daniel can create anything, has superspeed, can shapechange, and has superstrength! He travels through time as well, and meet Merlin.

First lines: ‘I bet I can see London from here, I was thinking. I was literally 150 feet in the air above a grassy field, outside a charming little village called Whaddon.

Classy : Be a Lady, Not a Tramp, by Derek Blasburg (230 pages) – This is a manual for older teen girls who want to be a classy; how to dress, etiquette to adopt, even what to read and watch. A modern Miss Manners!

Here are the latest magazines:

Entertainment Weekly #1115 – Always good for a twenty-minute read, for it is Quite Interesting.
XBox 360 : Official Australian Magazine #58 – Mafia II | Mortal Kombat | Loads of other games | Wouldn’t it be cool if we had games?
Seventeen September 2010 – Beauty Master Class | Secrets to the Best Date Ever! | 823 (!) Fashion and Beauty Ideas
Girlfriend September 2010 – perfumes | prints | Perry | Patterson | pin-ups

Some new (mostly purple) books

There aren’t many new books this week. No doubt there will be LOADS next week. Most of this week’s books’ covers have similar colouring! Weird, eh.

Withering Tights : The Misadventures of Tallulah Casey, by Louise Rennison (351 pages) – Louise Rennison is the author of the always-popular Confessions of Georgia Nicolson. This is the first in a new series about Tallulah Casey, who has just enrolled in a Performing Arts College in Yorkshire (hence the title, if you know your classics). The back blurb made me laugh! “Alex had everything a dream boy should have. Back, front, sides. A head.”

First lines: ‘Wow. This is it. This is me growing up. On my own, going to Performing Arts College.

Swapped by a Kiss, by Luisa Plaja (344 pages) – Rachel sees her boyfriend, David, kissing their friend Jo, who is the nicest girl at the school. Rachel, enraged, wishes she was Jo and suddenly she finds herself in Jo’s body. Being Jo isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Shouldn’t you just be yourself? Yes.

First line: ‘I am in the doorway of a dance tent and my boyfriend is inside, kissing a girl who is not me.

To Catch a Pirate, by Jade Parker (228 pages) – Annalisa Townsend is discovered hiding in the hold of a ship by James Sterling, pirate and charmer. Determined to find her father’s treasure she sets out a year later to try to find Sterling. Will she get the treasure? Or will he also capture her heart with his suave seadog stylings?

First line: ‘Annalisa Townsend didn’t know which terrified her more: the razor-sharp edge of the dagger pressed against her throat or the ruthless glare of the pirate who’d shoved her against the wall with the harsh words, “Hold your tongue or I’ll remove it.”

Rebel Girl : Secrets at St Jude’s, by Carmen Reid (289 pages) – Four girls at St Jude’s School for Girls face different problems of various magnitude (Niffy wants to be gorgeous! Min is studying too much and missing out on fun! Amy’s rich dad goes broke! Gina’s got a wandering eye!). So they get in touch with their inner rebel.

First line: ‘Long after midnight, Gina lay wide awake in her narrow dorm bed.

Boyology : A Teen Girl’s Crash Course in All Things Boy, by Sarah O’Leary Burningham (167 pages) – This is non-fiction! And it intended to assist teens who want to understand the male psyche. Chapter headings include, ‘The Firsts of First Dates: And the Rest of the Dating Game‘, ‘You Wear the Pants: Setting Your Boundaries‘, and ‘Breaking Up Is Hard to Do.

Sam Stern’s Eat Vegetarian, by Sam Stern and Susan Stern (187 pages) – This is the Sterns’ fifth book, and is packed with some very nice-looking recipes. Meat-free, so are probably cheaper to make if you’re on a budget! Which is good.

Sam Stern has a website worth looking at if you want some of his recipes. Or get out one of his other books maybe.

Chocolate Cake With Hitler, by Emma Craigie (204 pages) – Helga Goebbels, daughter of the Nazi’s head of propaganda, spent the last ten days of her life (she was twelve) stuck in Hitler’s bunker. Her parents and the other adults become more and more tense and Helga soon begins to realise that her childhood wasn’t the fairytale it seemed.

First lines: ‘I’m sitting with Papa on a bench beside the sea. I must be about three years old.

Look at these New Books

Harmonic Feedback, by Tara Kelly (280 pages) – Drea has ‘a touch of Asperger’s’, and is obsessed with music. When she moves to a new town AGAIN she – at long last! – makes some friends, and even finds love maybe.

First lines: ‘One in thirty-eight. Bet on a single number in roulette, and those are the odds of winning.

Boys That Bite : A Blood Coven Vampire Novel, by Mari Mancusi (262 pages) – Looks like we’ve got a new (and ‘refreshingly different’) vampire series. Sunny is dragged to something called Club Fang by her sister, Rayne, and finds out that the members are not just playing dress-up – she gets bitten and has a week to undo it.

First line: ‘You know, being bitten by a vampire one week before prom really sucks.

90 Packets of Instant Noodle, by Deb Fitzpatrick (307 pages) – Joel and his chum Craggs drink, steal, and generally cause havoc together. SO Joel’s dad, with the police, send them off to a remote bush shack for 90 days. Where, presumably! all they have to eat are noodles.

First line: ‘It was Dad who finally snapped over what had been going on.

Thirteen Days to Midnight, by Patrick Carman (296 pages) – Jacob Fielding is given the rather enviable power of indestructability, and begins to use his new power for good. BUT there’s a curse to the ability, and he has thirteen days to sort it out.

First line: ‘Jacob Fielding stood in a small room and stared at a body.

The Prince of Mist, by Carlos Ruis Zafon (202 pages) – A ‘haunting story of magic, mystery and adventure’, about a boy who moves to a house overlooking the sea and the mysterious (and terrifying!) Prince of the Mist. And a weird, staring cat.

First line: ‘Max would never forget that faraway summer when, almost by chance, he discovered magic.

Every Little Thing in the World, by Nina de Gramont (282 pages) – Sydney is sixteen, and going off the rails. So her parents send her to one of those ‘hard-love’ wilderness camps in the Canadian wilds for four weeks of Bear Grylls-lite survivalism. But! She is pregnant. Whatever will she do?

First line: ‘Natalia and I stole her mother’s new blue Cadillac and drove out to Overpeck to find Tommy.

The Cardturner : A Novel about a King, a Queen, and a Joker, by Louis Sachar (336 pages) – Alton’s rich, old and blind uncle asks him to attend bridge games with him. Which is a good plan when there’s an inheritance to think about! Alton soon learns a lot about his family history and himself as one mystery after another are discovered.

First line: ‘Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve had it drilled into me that my uncle Lester was my favourite uncle.

With a Sword in My Hand, by Jean-Claude van Rijckeghem and Pat van Beirs (266 pages) – An ‘enthralling medieval adventure’ about Marguerite, who refuses to conform to type, and learns how to use a sword, ride horses, and outwit the boys. The Court of Flanders has other ideas! This has won loads of awards, and is based on the real Marguerite van Male.

First line: ‘The knights of Flanders and Brabant will swear allegiance to the infant in its cradle.

The Beastly Bride : Tales of the Animal People, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling (500 pages) – This is a large collection of original stories and poems about shapechangers – werewolves, vampires, and so on – with illustrations by Charles Vess.

I Love You Zelda Bloo, by Gretel Killeen (183 pages) – Zelda Blookwell is the daughter of famous parents. She gets kidnapped when she goes with her mother to interview child soldiers, and while trying to survive she meets – and falls in love with! – Saro.

First line: ‘Help me. Can you help me? Please!

Palace Beautiful, by Sarah DeFord Williams (232 pages) – Sadie and best friend Bella find a secret room in the attic of their house, and there they discover a diary written one Helen during the 1918 ‘flu epidemic (which killed 50 million people worldwide!). As the girls try to find out what happened to Helen, Sadie’s ‘worries about her own family come closer to reality.’

First line: ‘My sister Zuzu says no one can remember the day they born, but I do.

Dancing in the Dark, by Robyn Bavati (290 pages) – Ditty’s very religious parents forbid her to take ballet lessons. So she starts ballet in secret! Of course the will come a point when the two world clash.

First line: ‘I’m lying on my bed, staring at the peeling paper on the wall in my room.

Henrietta Hornbuckle’s Circus of Life, by Michael de Guzman (152 pages) – Twelve-year-old Henrietta is a clown, as are her parents. In fact! Everyone she knows is a clown, because she is with a small travelling circus. She (and the other clowns) are on their way to New York City for a ‘climactic performance’, but first life throws a pie right in her kisser.

First line: ‘She stood at the stern of the ferry as it pulled away from the Connecticut shore.

The Alpha Bet, by Stephanie Hale (233 pages) – The admirably-named Grace Kelly Cook is only sixteen when she graduates from high school, and decides to join the Alpha Sorority at college. She lies a little bit on her application! So now she’s fearful of being discovered. And also she has to do something called the ‘Alpha Bet’, a super-secret series of tasks.

First line: ‘“It’s a dorm, Mom, not the Playboy Mansion,” I whisper in her ear, hoping she’ll stop throwing her evil eye looks around at all the kids in my new dorm.

Beautiful Monster, by Kate McCaffrey (231 pages) – All this typing! I will just C&P this book’s synopsis. “Tessa’s brother is dead, and her Mum is so deeply enmeshed in grief she might as well be too. Tessa is left with no-one to turn to but Ned. He’s been her staunchest ally, privy to her deepest secrets. But even Ned has a dark side. He knows all her weak spots and will exploit every one to keep her by his side.”

First lines: ‘The school bus hisses to a stop. Tessa Edwards looks up from her maths book as Camilla lifts her bag onto her shoulder.

Choppy Socky Blues, by Ed Briant (259 pages) – Jason’s father is a movie stuntman and a karate blackbelt. He’s also a liar who left his family, according to Jason, who vows to never do karate as a consequence. But then Jason meets Tinga, who is gorgeous and is going for her blue belt – Jason (rashly!) says he is too, and the only one who can help him is his dad.

First line: ‘My name is Jason Smallfield, I’m fourteen, and my father is an Imperial storm trooper.

Raven Speak, by Diane Lee Wilson (254 pages) – Asa and her horse Rune make a run for it when her clan’s wise man – who is hungry for power (and horsemeat) while Asa’s Viking chief father is away – demands Rune be sacrificed. Asa finds shelter with an old, one-eyed woman with a pair of ravens. The old woman also demands a sacrifice …

First line: ‘In the pale light of a wintry morning seven men saddled their ship across bucking white waves.

Split, by Swati Avasthi (282 pages) – Sixteen-year-old Jace is thrown out of his home by his abusive father, and goes to live with his older brother, who long ago left to escape the abuse.

First line: ‘Now I have to start lying. While I stare through the windshield at the building my brother lives in, I try to think up a good lie.

A Wizard of Mars, by Diane Duane (549 pages) – This here book is number nine in the Young Wizards series, in which Kit and Nina ‘manage to wangle their way onto an elite team sent to investigate the mysterious, long-sought “message in a bottle” that holds the first clues to the secrets of the ancient Martian race

First lines: ‘The problem, Kit thought, scowling at the paper, isn’t the basic shape, so much. It’s what to do with the legs …

My Private Pectus, by Shane Thamm (278 pages) – ‘A story about footy, cars and a young man who discovers that revealing his greatest secret is the only way to hold on to the people he loves.‘ (I just copied that from the back cover.)

First line: ‘Dad just landed the job as assistant rugby league coach at St Philip’s College.

New Books

Here are the latest new books to arrive in the YA collection. I know that all we’ve written about lately are books, but we are a library! We can not be faulted.

These are only half the new books. btw. Xmas has been busy.

The Demon King : A Seven Realms Novel, by Cinda Williams Chima (506 pages) – This is the first in a series. It is a fantasy series, set in a world threatened by the Demon King, and the protaganist is a reformed thief who falls for a princess.

First line: ‘Han Alister squatted nest to the steaming mud spring, praying that the thermal crust would hold his weight.

Betraying Season, by Marissa Doyle (330 pages) – It is 1838. Penelope Leland heads to Ireland to study magic. Niall Keating is instructed to woo her by his evil mother – will he fall for Penelope, or is he a real son of a witch?

First line: ‘“Saints preserve us!” The shocked cry and a wild jangle of harness yanked Pen Leland from her reverie.

Border Crossing, by Jessica Lee Anderson (174 pages) – Texan teen Manz lives with his alcoholic mother and her boyfriend. Life is rough and isn’t helped by the many voices he hears in his head. As they get louder he finds it difficult to tell reality from delusion.

First line: ‘My room blazed red.

The Geek Girl’s Guide to Cheerleading, by Charity Tahmaseb and Darcy Vance (324 pages) – Bethany has always considered herself a geek, so when she makes the varsity cheerleading squad she finds she needs to learn more than just swinging about those pom-pom things.

First line: ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged that a high school boy in possession of great athletic ability must be in want of … a bowl of oatmeal.

All the Lovely Bad Ones : A Ghost Story, by Mary Downing Hahn (182 pages) – Travis and his sister, Corey, drum up business for their grandmother’s inn in Fox Hill, Vermont, by faking a haunting. But! They awaken a real haunting, and only by uncovering the secret horrors of Fox Hill can they put the ghosts to rest.

First line: ‘Grandmother met us at the Burlington airport, a big smile on her face and her arms open for a hug.

Angel Fish, by Lili Wilkinson (246 pages) – Gabriel joins Stephan, who claims that an army of children can free the Holy Lands from the Saracen. The so-called Children’s Crusade is a disaster, and Gabriel must confront his doubts. A historical novel based on an actual event.

First lines: ‘A boy has come to Machery. I think he might be an Angel.

Oathbreaker : A Prince Among Killers, by S. R. Vaught and J. B. Redmond (420 pages)  – This is the sequel to Oathbreaker : Assassin’s Apprentice. The apprentice is Aron, who with the help of his friends must battle the leaders who want to destroy the land.

First line: ‘In a time before written history, humans conquered Earth’s magical societies.

Kira : Shadow of the Dragon : Book One, by Kate O’Hearn (307 pages) – Kira is the daughter of a retired dragon knight. War is declared, and her family is taken away to serve the king. Kira and her sister are unmarried, which is a crime for all girls over the age of thirteen, so they are locked up. They escape! And there is a baby dragon also!

First line: ‘“I don’t want to get married!”

Where the Streets Had a Name, by Randa Abdel-Fattah (227 pages) – Thirteen-year-old Hayaat wants to bring her dying grandmother some soil from the garden she left behind many years ago. It’s only a few miles away, but to get to it Hayaat must cross to Jerusalem from Bethlehem, in the West Bank, and there’s a massive – and well-guarded – wall in the way.

First line: ‘It’s six-thirty in the morning.

Over the End Line, by Alfred C. Martino (304 pages) – Jonny and Kyle are best friends, although Kyle is like number one at soccer and popular at school. Jonny is neither of those things until he scores a winning goal at the county football champs. A blend of ‘fast-paced sports action … memorable characters, and … suspense in a powerful yet dark story of popularity, violence, and terror.’

First lines: ‘It’s morning. I’m awake. I wish I wasn’t.

Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can’t Have, by Allen Zadoff  (311 pages) – Andrew is fifteen and the second fattest kid in his sport-crazy high school. He falls for April, and decides to join the football squad. Not soccer! American football, where it might help to be heavy?

First lines: ‘My name is Andrew Zansky. I’m fifteen years old, and I weigh 307 pounds.

Beatle Meets Destiny, by Gabrielle Williams (290 pages)
Loving Richard Fernman, by Penny Tangey (199 pages)
Mama’s Song, by Ben Beaton (198 pages)

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