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Tag: Jane Austen

Swoon!

Ok, now that  I’ve got your attention, it’s Valentine’s Day and the hottest romance around at the moment is of course, Bridgerton.  Everybody is talking about it and the series of books by Julia Quinn are flying off the shelves of the libraries quicker than you can say “Your Grace”.

That said, historical romance is so not a new thing, so you can still slake your thirst for handsome, roguish Dukes and feisty society ladies, while thrilling over the latest scandal amongst the ton.  Some of the heroes of which are as appealing as the Duke of Hastings!

Here are some to set your pulses racing:

A spy in the house / Lee, Y. S.
“At a young age, Mary is rescued from the gallows by a woman masquerading as a prison warden. She is taken to Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls. The school, Mary learns, is a front for a private investigation agency and, at 17, she is taken on as an agent.” (Catalogue)

 

Lady Helen and the Dark Days pact / Goodman, Alison
“Summer, 1812. After the scandalous events at her presentation ball in London, Lady Helen is training to be a Reclaimer with the covert Dark Days Club. As she struggles to put aside her genteel upbringing and take up the weapons of a warrior, Helen realizes that her mentor, Lord Carlston, is fighting his own inner battle. Has the foul Deceiver energy poisoned his soul, or is something else driving him towards violent bouts of madness? Either way, Helen is desperate to help the man with whom she shares a deep but forbidden connection. When Mr Pike, the hard bureaucratic heart of the Dark Days Club, arrives in Brighton, no one is prepared for the ordinary evil he brings in his wake. He has a secret task for Helen and Mr Hammond, and the authority of the Prince Regent. They have no choice but to do as he orders, knowing that the mission will betray everyone around them and possibly bring about Lord Carlston’s annihilation.” (Catalogue)

A breath of frost / Harvey, Alyxandra
“A breathtaking new series from Alyxandra Harvey about three cousins discovering a secret family legacy, now in paperback. Emma Day and her two cousins, Gretchen and Penelope, are uninterested in their debutante lives. All the boring balls, tiresome curtsying and polite conversation leave much to be desired. Then a girl is found dead, frost clinging to her lifeless body, and the murder is traced to Emma. As their world is turned upside down, Emma discovers more about herself and her cousins, from her connection to the murders to the secrets of her family legacy. Now the girls must embrace their true Lovegrove inheritance in order to stop the chaos, even if that means risking their lives.” (Catalogue)

One fine duke / Bell, Lenora
“Ready: Raised in the countryside by her overprotective uncle, Miss Mina Penny’s dream of a triumphant London season is finally here. She determined her perfect match long ago: Rafe Bentley, the wickedest rake of them all. There’s only one very large, very unyielding obstacle: Rafe’s brother Andrew, the reclusive Duke of Thorndon. Aim: This was supposed to be simple. Duke goes to London. Duke selects suitable bride. Love match Not a chance. But when Andrew meets Mina, she complicates everything. How can a lady armed with such beauty and brains fall for his irresponsible degenerate of a brother Andrew vows to save her from heartbreak and ruin, no matter the cost. Desire: But Mina is no damsel in distress. She’s daring, intuitive, passionate…and halfway to melting Andrew’s cold heart. And although Mina thought she knew exactly what she wanted, one breathtakingly seductive kiss from Andrew changes everything. Now Mina must decide between long-held dreams and dangerous new desires. Could her true destiny lie in the arms of a duke?” (Catalogue)

The luxe / Godbersen, Anna
“Beautiful sisters Elizabeth and Diana Holland rule Manhattans social scene, but are soon caught up in a whirlwind of scandal when a family secret threatens their position. This delicious novel is the first of an exciting new trilogy about five compelling teens in 1899 Manhattan, where appearance matters over everything. In Manhattan in 1899, five teens of different social classes lead dangerously scandalous lives, despite the strict rules of society and the best-laid plans of parents and others.” (Catalogue)

And finally, if you loved Bridgerton, I can promise you that you will adore Jane Austen.  Yes I know her books are often set as school reading, I know they’re classics and your Mum probably loves them, but there’s definitely a reason they’ve been so enduring.  They’re brilliantly funny!  They’re exciting!  They’re sexy!  They’re full of feisty heroines, dashing heroes and devious rakes who ruin reputations!  My advice is to start with the OG of Regency fiction, Pride and Prejudice and then maybe move on to Sense and Sensibility   Then you can watch the Ang Lee directed movie with Alan Rickman as the best Colonel Brandon to ever grace the screen.  And when you’re ready to watch Pride and Prejudice, make sure you opt for the BBC series staring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.

Go on, have a go at Jane Austen.  I’m sure you’ll be glad you did.

New Books

Flash Point, Nancy Kress (501 pages) – the Collapse has happened, and the economy is a mess. Amy now has to support her family, but it’s hard when there are no jobs. When an opportunity comes up for her to go on a reality TV programme and get paid – called ‘Who Knows People Baby – You?’ – she jumps at the chance. The show’s premise seems okay – put a bunch of teenagers together and see what they do in various crises – but the producers up the ante whenever the ratings drop, and soon it’s life and death.

First sentence: All the other girls were better dressed and prettier than she was.

The Dead and Buried, Kim Harrington (297 pages) – Jade and her family have moved to a new town and new house, which Jade loves, until strange things start happening. The house is haunted, doh. The ghost is that of the popular girl in school who died mysteriously last year. Jade decides to investigate, and her nice new school friends (including the guy with the “dreamy blue eyes”) appear to be keeping secrets…

First sentences: I’m not stupid. I know half of them only worship me because they fear me.

Sea of Whispers, Tim Bowler (214 pages) – “Hetty’s always been a bit of a loner, preferring to keep to the outer edges of the close-knit island community. But when a strange woman is washed up on the shore, Hetty finds herself under increasing scrutiny from the islanders. There’s a connection between Hetty and the woman that makes people suspicious, so when death comes to the community the woman is branded a bad omen and Hetty has no choice but to take matters into her own hands. As she heads out to sea, a storm is breaking and the whispers that she’s heard before are louder than ever. Voices from the very depths of the sea… and they’re calling her name” (goodreads.com)

First sentence: They told her she was a dreamer, that the pictures she saw were an illusion, that sea glass could not tell a story; but this was a different kind of story.

Turf, John Lucas (360 pages) – Jay is a member of the Blake Street Boyz gang in London. He has the opportunity to become a gang senior, but he must first stab and kill a rival gang member. (or face the consequences).

First sentence: When you’re fifteen, everything matters.

Jane Austen Stole My Boyfriend, Cora Harrison (335 pages) – take it away goodreads: “Jane wants to meet a hero worthy of her extraordinary imagination: a gentleman who is dashing and daring and handsome and brave; who can dance like a viscount and duel like a king. Jane and Jenny are whiling away the season in Bath and there are plenty of dances, rumours and scandals to entertain them. But a good reputation, once lost, is gone forever; and Jane is in danger of becoming the talk of the town for all the wrong reasons…” (nicely put).

First sentences: ‘I hate Jane Austen! I really hate her!’

Gilt, Katherin Longshore (406 pages) – Kitty has always been the wind beneath Cat’s wings, so to speak, living in her shadow. Then Cat finds herself in King Henry VIII’s court – and his heart – and invites Kitty to join her. Soon Kitty is enjoying the glitz and glamour, and the interest of dashing men. But not the shady side of court life, the secrets, treachery, and the possibility of one losing one’s head, literally.

First sentence: “You’re not going to steal anything.”

When We Wake, Karen Healey (291 pages) – Tegan wakes up one day to discover it’s been 100 years since she was last awake. As the first cryonically frozen human, she’s an instant celebrity. When she learns appalling secrets about her new society she must choose between keeping her head down and learning how to fit in, or fighting for a better future.

First sentences: My name is Tegan Oglietti. One of my ancestors was a highwayman, and another was a prince.

Vortex, Julie Cross (360 pages) – Tempest is the division of the CIA that deals with time travel-related security threats. Jackson is an agent for Tempest, a role he’s dedicated his life to after losing Holly – who he altered history in order to save. When a rival organisation called Eyewall starts up, Jackson finds both he and Holly are under threat: his little history-tweaking is no longer a secret.

First sentence: The only things that gave me the strength to pull myself off that grassy spot and walk farther from Holly were the images that flashed through my mind – Holly, sitting in that orientation, hiding the book in her lap with her name carefully written inside, her hair twirling around the pencil she was using to take notes.

Happy birthday Pride and Prejudice!

In historical milestone news, last week (the 28th of January to be exact) marked the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen! It’s a great read with a cast of oddball characters, and it will take up that “classics” spot in your school reading log quite nicely.

200 years is a long time, and there have been a whole bunch of different adaptations and versions of P+P. Here are a few of our faves:

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Of course.

The 2005 movie with Keira Knightley in it. Bingley, please.

Prom & Prejudice, a modern retelling of P+P. Same names and everything! But set in a high school.

The Lizzie Bennett Diaries, an online video series adaptation in the form of vlogs. It is super good! Also, it was co-created and developed by Hank Green of vlogbrothers fame i.e. brother of John Green.

This excellent cartoon summary version.

And finally, this has got to be the prettiest edition of the book ever:

Book cover courtesy of Syndetics

Check it out in real life to see the extent of its prettiness – bright coloured page edges, embossing and a silky matte cover. It’s designed by Jessica Hische (my favourite graphic designer!) and you can see a few more from this series on her website.

Happy P+P anniversary, enjoy in any way you wish!

New Books

Bound, by Erica O’Rourke (353 pages) – This is the third book in the Torn series. Wow have you ever thought that there are so many series in teen fiction? This one is about mortals and magic, and Mo Fitzgerald, who has to choose between the two worlds or else lose everything and everyone.

First lines: ‘The problem with terrible ideas is that the people who have them don’t recognize how truly awful they are until it’s too late. After all, nobody deliberately chooses the worst possible course of action.

Stormdancer : The Lotus War book one, by Jay Kristoff (324 pages) – Well here it is! Feudal Japanese steampunk. Yukiko, the book’s heroine, and her flightless griffin pal must take on the Shogun and his empire. There are also chainsaw swords in this book, a little blurb tells me.

First line: ‘As the iron war club scythed toward her head, Yukiko could help wishing she’d listened to her father. She rolled aside as her cover was smashed to kindling, azalea petals drifting over the oni’s shoulders like perfumed snowflakes.

Bitter Blood : The Morganville Vampires book 13, by Rachel Caine (538 pages) – For ages vampires and humans have co-existed in Morganville, getting up to at least twelve books-worth of adventure and intrigue. Now that the draug – the creatures that kept the vampires in check – have been defeated, the vampires are becoming a little excessive, and the humans want to fight back! Also a reality television show threatens to reveal all to the world.

First lines: ‘Morganville, Texas, isn’t like other towns. Oh, it’s small, dusty, and ordinary, in most ways, but the thing is, there are these – well, let’s not be shy about it. Vampires.’

Break My Heart 1,000 Times, by Daniel Waters (342 pages) – After the Event, everyone could see ghosts. Creepy! Man. Veronica sees the ghost of a teenaged boy in her mirror each morning, but isn’t too worried. However, the ghosts seem to becoming more powerful, and Veronica and chum Kirk uncover a creepier plot of their teacher, whose dead daughter hasn’t come back; he’s now convinced that by killing a living host (i.e., Veronica) his kid might resurface.

First lines: ‘I walk through walls. I whisper at the window when I watch her leave our home. I flicker at the edges of my own memory.

Rivals and Retribution : A 13 to Life Novel, by Shannon Delany (308 pages) – This is the conclusion (and book number five) to the 13 to Life series, about two werewolf families battling it out for the town of Junction. It receives what they call ‘mixed reviews’ on Goodreads, now accessible directly through the library catalogue! Handy

First line: ‘The girl enters the barn, slipping between hay bales and a stack of buckets.

Butter, by Erin Jade Lange (296 pages) – Sixteen-year-old Butter is morbidly obese, and feels alone. So he gets a website – butterslastmeal.com – and decides that he will broadcast his own death by over-eating. As he carries out his (somewhat macabre) plan he discovers that the attention he receiving, though not exactly positive, feels like popularity, and as the deadline approaches, does he still want to go through with it? Very tense with an amazing character is what I distill from the reviews I just read.

First lines: ‘Most people would say the website is where this wild ride began. But for me is started two days earlier, on a Tuesday night in front of the TV in my living room.

Passenger, by Andrew Smith (465 pages) – This is a sequel to The Marbury Lens, about a pair of boys who run away to London and find a lens that transports them to an war-stricken alternate reality. Now they try to destroy the lens, but there is an evil that won’t let them run away so easily, especially when it has their friends. Full of coolness.

First lines: ‘This is it. Of course it wasn’t over. Things like this never end. It has been two and a half months since Freddie Horvath kidnapped some dumb kid who was too drunk to find his way home.

Unwholly, by Neal Shusterman (402 pages) – Book one of the Unwind trilogy. Here is book one! Teens can be harvested – ‘unwound’ – for body parts, which is of course not ideal, but it is the future and it is dystopian. Thrilling, affecting, and really good, I reckon, after skimming through Goodreads.

First line: ‘He’s fighting a nightmare when they come for him. A great flood is swallowing the world, and in the middle of the it all, he’s being mauled by a bear.

For Darkness Shows the Stars, by Diana Peterfreund (407 pages) – This is a sci-fi post-apocalyptic romance strongly inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion. FINALLY. Elliot North reunites with Kai, the boy she loved but refused to elope with, when she’s forced to rent land from the mysterious Cloud Feet group to which he now belongs. He’s got secrets! He’s also kind of unpleasant, but it’s justified (because of the secrets).

First lines: ‘Elliot North raced across the pasture, leaving a scar of green in the silver, dew-encrusted grass. Jeff followed, tripping a bit as his feet slid inside his too-big shoes.

Ashen Winter, by Mike Mullin (576 pages) – This is set in the US, six months after the Yellowstone Supervolcano erupted, as depicted in the first book, Ashfall. (You know that part in that film 2012 when Yellowstone explodes? Well there actually is a supervolcano there! There is one under Taupo and 26,000 years ago it plunged the earth into a volcanic winter and invented pumice.) So in this book, Yellowstone has gone up and the country is pretty post-apocalyptic; protaganist Alex must return to Iowa to find his parents.

First line: ‘Ten months had passed since I’d last seen the sun. The rich blue of that final August sky was fading from my memory.

Son, by Lois Lowry (393 pages) – The conclusion the series begun in The Giver. It is a utopian future! But, sadly, it comes with a heavy cost; a society where regimented eugenics dictates almost every aspect of interpersonal interactions. In this book, Claire, who’d been a Vessel, can not forget her son. She is desperate to get him back, and will stop at nothing to do so.

First lines: ‘The young girl cringed when the buckled the eyeless leather mask around the upper half of her face and blinded her. It felt grotesque and unnecessary, but she didn’t object. It was the procedure.‘ 

Vessel, by Sarah Beth Durst (424 pages) – Liyana’s reason to be is to become the vessel for her tribe’s goddess; she will dance and summon the goddess, who will then bring the rain that her people desperately need. However! It doesn’t work, and Liyana is exiled. She meets a boy reportedly possessed by the trickster god, Korbyn, who seeks Liyana’s help to find five other vessels; the gods are going missing, and they’re needed.

First lines: ‘On the day she was to die, Liyana walked out of her family’s tent to see the dawn. She buried her toes in the sand, cold from the night, and she wrapped her father’s goatskin cloak tight around her shoulders.

Nothing amuses me more

Austenbook is what you get when you cross Jane Austen with Facebook. My favourite line: ‘Mrs. Bennet joined the group Widows of Men Killed in Duels’.

SUBTXT review #1

Each week we will publish one of the reviews from last year’s SUBTXT reading programme. We received many, many excellent reviews – so many that we can post one weekly for several years to come!

 Sense and SensibilitySense And Sensibility
Jane Austen
373 pages

Theme: It’s basically a classic, old version of what they call ‘chick lit’, so it’s based around romance and scandal. The story starts when the Dashwood family are left wothout money when Mr. Dashwood, their husband and father, dies and leaves the entire family estate to his son from his first marriage who, influenced by his wife, takes basically all of it for himself. The Dashwood family move to a cottage on another relative’s property … 

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