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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!

New LGBTIQ+ Teen Reads on OverDrive

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

LGBTIQ+ Teen Reads

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

Overdrive cover We Contain Multitudes, Sarah Henstra (Audiobook)

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

Overdrive cover Lizard Radio, Pat Schmatz (ebook)

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

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

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

Overdrive cover The Full Spectrum, David Levithan (ebook)

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

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

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

Overdrive cover Finding Nevo, Nevo Zisin (ebook)

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

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

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

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

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

Overdrive cover Rainbow Revolutionaries, Sarah Prager (ebook)

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

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

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

Top 10: Spring flower girls

In the name of Spring (again), I bring you books featuring girls with flowery and botanical names. Violets, Daisys and Lilys, you’ll find them right here.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHow I Live Now, Meg Rosoff

Fifteen-year-old Daisy thinks she knows all about love. Her mother died giving birth to her, and now her dad has sent her away for the summer, to live in the English countryside with cousins she’s never even met. There she’ll discover what real love is: something violent, mysterious and wonderful. There her world will be turned upside down and a perfect summer will explode into a million bewildering pieces. How will Daisy live then?'” (adapted from Syndetics)

Featuring awesome protagonist Daisy. We also have the movie version on DVD, but it is R16 so you may have trouble reserving it with a young adult library card. Give us a call if you get stuck!

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCinder, Marissa Meyer

“Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.” (Syndetics)

Cinder has one horrible step-sister, but her other, lovely step-sister is named Peony. We also have this book on CD, and Rebecca Soler does an incredible job of narrating all the unique characters.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsEmbrace, Jessica Shirvington

Violet Eden is dreading her seventeenth birthday dinner. After all, it’s hard to get too excited about the day that marks the anniversary of your mother’s death. The one bright spot is that Lincoln will be there. Sexy, mature and aloof, he is Violet’s idea of perfection. But why does he seem so reluctant to be anything more than a friend? Nothing could have prepared her for Lincoln’s explanation: he is Grigori, part angel and part human, and Violet is his eternal partner. Without warning, Violet’s world is turned upside down. As Violet gets caught up in an ancient battle between dark and light, she must choose her path. The wrong choice could cost not only her life, but her eternity…” (adapted from Syndetics)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMarcelo In The Real World, Francisco X. Stork

Marcelo Sandoval hears music no one else can hear–part of the autism-like impairment no doctor has been able to identify–and he’s always attended a special school where his differences have been protected. But the summer after his junior year, his father demands that Marcelo work in his law firm’s mailroom in order to experience “the real world.” There Marcelo meets Jasmine, his beautiful and surprising coworker, and Wendell, the son of another partner in the firm. He learns about competition and jealousy, anger and desire. But it’s a picture he finds in a file — a picture of a girl with half a face — that truly connects him with the real world: its suffering, its injustice, and what he can do to fight.” (adapted from Syndetics)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDash & Lily’s Book of Dares, Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?” (Syndetics)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSoulmates, Holly Bourne

Every so often, two people are born who are the perfect match for each other. Soulmates. But while the odds of this happening are about as likely as being struck by lightning, when these people do meet and fall in love, thunderstorms, lightning strikes and lashings of rain are only the beginning of their problems. After a chance meeting at a local band night, Poppy and Noah find themselves swept up in a whirlwind romance unlike anything they’ve ever experienced before. But with a secret international agency preparing to separate them, a trail of destruction rumbling in their wake, they are left with an impossible choice: the end of the world, or a life without love?” (Syndetics)

This one doubly wins because the author (Holly) has a botanical name too!

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsVampire Academy, Richelle Mead

“St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger… Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.” (Goodreads)

If one’s not enough, we have the whole series here in our collection!

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOn a Clear Day, Walter Dean Meyers

Dahlia is a Low Gater: a sheep in a storm, struggling to survive completely on her own. The Gaters live in closed safe communities, protected from the Sturmers, mercenary thugs. And the C-8, a consortium of giant companies, control global access to finance, media, food, water, and energy resources–and they are only getting bigger and even more cutthroat. Dahlia, a computer whiz, joins forces with an ex-rocker, an ex-con, a chess prodigy, an ex-athlete, and a soldier wannabe. Their goal: to sabotage the C-8. But how will Sayeed, warlord and terrorist, fit into the equation?” (Syndetics)

This one’s actually not out just yet, but you can still reserve it before its release in a couple of weeks.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFlora Segunda, Ysabeau Wilce

Flora knows better than to take shortcuts in her family home, Crackpot Hall–the house has eleven thousand rooms, and ever since her mother banished the magickal butler, those rooms move around at random. But Flora is late for school, so she takes the unpredictable elevator anyway. Huge mistake. Lost in her own house, she stumbles upon the long-banished butler–and into a mind-blowing muddle of intrigue and betrayal that changes her world forever.” (Syndetics)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Fault In Our Stars, John Green

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.” (Syndetics)

I couldn’t make this list and NOT include Hazel Grace! It just couldn’t be done. We also have this as an audiobook on CD.

There are plenty more books that could have made it onto this list – have you got any suggestions? Let us know in the comments!

Top 10: Theatre

There’s a fair amount of fiction about drama, acting and theatres, which kind of makes sense, since drama is what fiction is about, in some form of another.

  1. Eyes Like Stars, Lisa Mantchev. Very weird and well written. Bertie has grown up in the Theatre Illuminata, a sort of magical place where some of the great characters of the theatre are actually real, including the fairies from A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Peaseblossom and friends, and also the mysterious Ariel), and Nate the pirate-type (from The Little Mermaid I think?). Bertie is a bit accident prone, and also adventure prone, to the point where things get really out of control and the theatre is shaken to its foundations. Perchance to Dream, the sequel, is even more of a trip.
  2. Wondrous Strange, Lesley Livingston. The sequel is Darklight. Again there’s a sort of Midsummer Night’s Dream going on here. Kelley Winslow is a theatre actor who is about to have the faerie world unleashed on her (and vice versa), which involves having a horse hang out in her bath for several days, and meeting people like the mysterious Sonny Flannery, who guards the Samhain Gate behind which (and through which) bad things happen.
  3. Illyria, Elizabeth Hand. Yet more Shakespeare! This time cousins Madeleine and Rogan discover their acting talents in a production of Twelfth Night, as well as a problematic romance (they’re cousins). Narrated by Maddy as a reflection on the past, this was a winner of the World Fantasy Award. For older teens.
  4. The Jumbee, Pamela Keyes. A revisioning of The Phantom of the Opera, except where in Phantom it’s about the singing, here it’s all about the (Shakespearean) acting. After her father (who was a famous thespian) dies, Esti and her mother move to a Caribbean island where she attends a theatre school which appears to be haunted by a jumbee (ghost) with a gift for bringing Shakespeare alive and getting the best out of Esti’s talents.
  5. Cuckoo in the Nest, Michelle Magorian. Set in post World War II Britain. During the war Ralph received an education he otherwise wouldn’t have in his working class community, and develops a love for the theatre. When he returns to his family Ralph is caught between two worlds. He wants to become an actor, but this doesn’t sit well with his father at all, and Ralph must try and reconcile his background and his passion.
  6. Shakespeare’s Apprentice, Veronica Bennett. A historical love story of star crossed lovers (as in, like Romeo and Juliet). Sam is an actor in the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, a theatre group who performs (among other things) pieces written by the playwright William Shakespeare. Lucie is the niece of Lord Essex, and the two (most unsuitably) fall in love. Things get hairy when Lord Essex is convicted of treason.
  7. My Invented Life, Lauren Bjorkman. A comedy of errors (which Shakespeare was rather good at). Roz’s fantasy life sometimes gets in the way of reality. So, when she decides her sister Eva must be gay, she encourages her to come out by staging a (fake) coming out of her own. This sounds problematic already, but to make it more so, Roz has a large crush on Eva’s boyfriend Bryan. Oh the trials! The drama club’s production of As You Like It is the background for this one.
  8. Saving Juliet, Suzanne Selfors. Mimi is somewhat reluctantly performing as Juliet in her family’s Broadway production of Romeo and Juliet. On the final night, however, things get interesting when she and her leading man are transported to Verona (Shakespeare’s Verona, that is) and Mimi decides to help Juliet out a bit. But will she get back again.
  9. Malvolio’s Revenge, Sophie Masson. But wait, there’s more Twelfth Night, this time set in turn of the 20th century New Orleans. A group of travelling performers comes to New Orleans in the hope of staging their play, Malvolio’s Revenge, and stay at a plantation mansion called Illyria, the home of mysterious 17 year old Isabelle. Toby, the group’s young jack of all trades, “unravels the mysteries of Isabelle’s origins, [and] he begins to suspect something terrible will engulf them all.” (from goodreads.com)
  10. Talk, Kathe Koja. Kit is secretly gay, Lindsay is one of the popular crowd, and together they’re the stars of the school’s controversial play Talk. Lindsay falls for Kit, dumps her boyfriend, and therefore tests Kit’s real-life performance. The truth will out.

Best Of 2010 : Music

At the end of every year, every single website is contractually obligated by the internet to publish a list of their top ten albums released that year. Not wanting to void our contract and, let’s be honest, because it’s fun too, here’s ours.

The rules are that it must have been both released and catalogued into the YA collection in 2010.

Local goodness from Liam Finn, Connan Mockasin and pals. Felt like this one flew under the radar a little bit, undeservedly so.

9. Dum Dum Girls – I Will Be
The best of the lo-fi indie girl band bunch in a year that said bunch was of a ubiquitously high quality.

8. Big Boi – Sir Lucious Left Foot, The Son Of Chico Dusty
On this album Big Boi proved that he is far from just “that other dude from Outkast”

7. Connan Mockasin – Please Turn Me Into The Snat
My favourite NZ release of the year. It’s a psychedelic pop gem.

6. Gorillaz – Plastic Beach
Apparently this is the last album from Damon Albarn’s cartoon band. If so, it was a great one to go out on.

5. The White Stripes – Under Great White Northern Lights
No new material, just some great live performances of old favourites, rarities and a brilliant behind the scenes DVD

4. Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles II
The noisiest and most “punk rock” electro band returned with their second and it stayed on my ipod all year long.

3. Pavement – Quanrantine The Past
Do greatest hits albums qualify for lists like this? Seeing as it’s my list, I’d say yes. More so because this is some of the best indie rock ever made. Ever.

2. The Black Keys – Brothers
This album not only features the best use og guitar and drums this year, but also the cover features the best use of Cooper Black.

1. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening
Pretty much the perfect electro album. Which is more than enough to qualify for album of the year.

So there you go. Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments section. Perhaps write your own, discussion generating list?

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.

Best of 2009 Review: Ghost Medicine

Ghost Medicine, by Andrew Smith

The first sentence of Ghost Medicine reads I can see myself lying in the dirt, on my back, on a warm, starry night, with my feet up on those rocks, ringing a swirling and noisy fire, listening, laughing, seeing the sparks that corkscrew, spinning above me into the black like dying stars, fading, disappearing, becoming something else; my hat back on my head so I can just see my friends from the corners of my eyes, which says a lot about the book (so I don’t have to, but might anyway).

This is quite different from a lot of other Young Adult literature: the writing is intense, poetic, slooow, at times brutal, and nearly always completely excellent. The story is simple; an idyllic summer (hard work on the farm, horse riding, nights outside by the fire, good friends, rather a lot of tobacco chewing) turns tumultuous and dangerous after a series of encounters with the local bully boy (who is unfortunately also the sherif’s son). The characters are a well drawn, the detail is great (especially the horsey stuff), and their predicaments are believable. Read this book if you like things slow and chilled out, but don’t if you don’t.

I also liked:

Front and Center, Catherine Gilbert Murdock & Perfect Fifths, Megan McCafferty – because they were DJ and Jessica Darling’s last hurrahs.

Shiver, Maggie Stiefvater – because it was so darn sweet.

Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins – because it was much better than I thought it was going to be, and I really want to read the last in the series now.

Fragile Eternity, Melissa Marr – although I actually thought Ink Exchange was better (but that was last year). You can read the prologue for Radiant Shadows (another bad title!) here.

Solace of the Road, Siobhan Dowd – a classic road trip story, where Holly/Solace starts out in search of one thing and finds something else entirely better. I think this is the last of Siobhan Dowd’s books to be published, which is sad.

What They Always Tell Us, Martin Wilson – a well-written, down-beat story of two brothers working through very different stuff.

Fire, Kristin Cashore – this was good, although I didn’t think it deserved its rave reviews. Nice to see Leck a bit more (the prologue is creepy!), but I thought that someone who could control people’s minds should have been a bit more dangerous.

The Bride’s Farewell, Meg Rosoff – because while it’s no How I Live Now, Meg Rosoff is still a brilliant writer of stories about girls who know how to look after themselves in harsh circumstances.

And that makes 10, so that’s like my Top 10 Books of 2009.

~ Grimm

Things people search for the most

Here is a new list of the Top 10 things people search for in the library catalogue (and here is the old one!). The catalogue is called Easyfind as it easily finds things (obvs) and also recommends similar things.

So here they are, in order of popularity. 

1. Twilight
2. New Moon
3. Book
4. Jodi Picoult
5. My Sisters Keeper
6. The Lovely Bones
7. Lovely Bones
8. thriller
9. Cherub
10. 24

I think it’s pretty cool that about a third of them are for items in the YA section. (The 11th on the list is Stephenie Meyer and the 12th is Eclipse.) SO significant.

Here are some of the searches that didn’t get an results. They are also called ‘orphaned queries’, depressingly.

‘ultamate biplane’, ‘stunt biplane’, ‘the profet’, ‘stephine meyer’, ‘shime’, ‘build chicken coop’, and ‘rock n roll swindle enter your query here’.

Write About Music

It’s nearly the end of the year and in the blogosphere that can only mean it’s nearly time for year end lists, favourite books, movies, Kanye West outbursts, pretty much everything will be ordered from one to ten. 

I’ll be counting down the top ten YA CDs of the year in a week or two and I’d love to have some contributions from you all. Send in a review of your album of the year, or even just a list of your favourites, results will be tabulated and a list produced. When the post goes up the best reviews will be included so you can print it out, stick it on the fridge and say “Me, I’m famous. I contributed to a stupidly pseudonymed blogger’s slightly meaningless year end list. What did you do this year, huh?” and all your friends will say “Damn ______ is totes for the win and they also have really awesome taste in music.” So get to it!

The cut off date for submissions will be Monday the 28th of December at midnight.

Ten Books Containing Libraries or Librarians

1 The Chosen One, Carol Lynch Williams. Kyra reads books from the mobile library, which might seem not exactly rebellious, but it is when you’re in a cult and reading books is forbidden.

2 Andromeda Klein, Frank Portman. Andromeda’s life is a quirky mess, but when books start going AWOL from the library she’s onto it, possibly with the help of her dead friend Daisy who may be trying to send her messages. The story of a teenage occultist who finds herself pitted against dark powers, including some “friends of the library”.

Libraries and romance
3 Honey, Baby, Sweetheart, Deb Caletti. Not only does it feature a librarian – Ruby’s mother – but also a bookclub. A book geek full house. Never fear though, it also features lots of romance (historical and current). Deb Caletti is often compared to Sarah Dessen, who’s the next suspect.

4 The Truth About Forever, Sarah Dessen. Macy chooses between a boring and safe life (involving a job at the organised library) and a more unpredictable and interesting one (involving a job in disorganised catering). The choice also involves two boys.

5 Cupid’s Arrow, Isabelle Merlin. Fleur’s mother inherits a fabulous library from a famous French author. Retrieving this library from Avallon in France brings mystery, romance and, the publisher’s website says, an “interactive web element”.

6 The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffeneger. The last word in romantic books featuring librarians. Henry works at the Newberry in Chicago, which is serious library stuff.

Libraries and fantasy
7 The Thief, Megan Whalen Turner. Not giving too much away, but one of the characters who may or may not be Gen lives in the library in Eddis, since his/her close-ish relatives have a history of being vile to him/her, and he/she is probably insufferable back.

8 Wicked Lovely, Melissa Marr. The tireless and devoted Seth proves to be a useful researcher and, like a lot of useful researchers, visits the library to find out stuff (and to be harassed by faeries he can’t see).

9 Harry Potter…, J K Rowling. The library is the ultimate solution, according to Hermione. A bit like a cup of tea, but ultimately containing more information.

10 Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians, Brandon Sanderson (a children’s book). The evil librarians are trying to take over the world. Because if you’re trying to do that, librarian is the obvious career path (under the radar, see).

Let me know about any more.

Top 10 (or so) search queries

One of the catalogues we (the library) have on our website is Easyfind (or AquaBrowser), which, as the name suggests, makes searching for material easy. It recommends similar items to whatever someone searches for. Handy for browsing! It also keeps track of the most popular searches over the last 30 days, which gives an idea of what’s popular with Wellington library users.

Here’s a list, in order of popularity.

1. twilight
2. harry potter
3. fiction
4. book
5. the wire
6. novel
7. jodi picoult
8. star wars
9. shantaram
10. true blood
11. naruto

Some other popular searches were ‘my sisters keeper‘, ‘the lovely bones‘, ‘depression‘, ‘author: stephenie meyer‘, ‘death‘, ‘lonely planet‘, ‘poop‘, and ‘road code.

 There were also some queries that had no suggestions. These included ‘hoagland and breisch‘, ‘narto‘, ‘facts on rarotonga in a book‘, ‘55566‘, ‘stomp the yarf‘, ‘fykfout/”//;‘, ‘mtrjteogfshse‘, and ‘james belch.

Top 10 : Top 10

Here are ten Top 10 lists written by other websites (and not by us, although we’ve done a lot). They’re in no particular order, and if you want to add to the list go nuts and comment.

1. Top 10 Harry Potter Moments – so far, anyway. Has clips! (See also; Top 10 Harry Potter supporting characters.)

2. Top 10 Comic Book Cities – does Metropolis beat out Megacity One? No, it does not, and rightly so.

3. Top 10 Most Ridiculous Movie Tech Moments – Nerdrage!

4. Top 10 San Diego Comic Con Exclusives – probably of limited interest but there’s some cool stuff there. I had an original Soundwave once. Wish I still had it, it might be worth a mint.

5. Top 10 Twilight Series Moments – Beware, as this list contains spoilers (for the 2.7% of the population who haven’t read Twilight). 

6. Top 10 James Bond Books – as selected by Charlie Higson, author of the Young Bond series of books. He knows his Bond.

7. Top 10 Things You Can Do to Protect Your Privacy – a bit more serious that the others in this list, but very important! Very!

8. Top 20 Free PC Games – Twenty is better than ten, it must be said.

9. Top 10 Rap Songs That Sample Michael Jackson Songs – very topical.

10. Top 11 mashed Potato Recipes – a bit different, this list, but it allows me to a) mention the upcoming cooking event that’s planned (along with the competition!), b) point out that 2008 was the United Nations Year of the Potato and although it’s a bit late it’s interesting to learn, c) I can link to this, and d) mashed potatoes are yum. Don’t know why there are eleven though.

Top 10 : Japan (トップ 10 : 日本)

Tomorrow (the 11th of July, from 1pm at the Town Hall) is the Japanese Festival (as mentioned here) and, with that in mind, here’s our Top Ten Japanese-related material (mostly) in the YA area. In no particular order.

1. Final Fantasy VII : Advent Children (ファイナルファンタジーVII アドベントチルドレン) – This is based on the highly-regarded console game, and although it might be a little incomprehensible if you’re not familiar with Final Fantasy it’s still a spectacular CGI film. (Website.)

2. Kino No Tabi (or Kino’s Journey : The Beautiful World, キノの旅), by Keiichi Shigusawa – This is the first in a series of novels about Kino, who travels through many unique lands with her talking motorcycle. That might sound a little twee, but the story looks at some pretty profound themes. We’ve only the first book, for now (sadly).

3. Anything by Studio Ghibli Inc. (株式会社スタジオジブリ) – The films produced by Studio Ghibli are some of the best out there. Most people have seen Spirited Away (the first anime to win an Academy Award), but Princess Mononoke and Howl’s Moving Castle are definitely worth the 50c rental fee. And Ponyo (trailer) is at this year’s Wellington Film Festival (on the 17th and 19th of July).

4. Tekkon Kinkreet (鉄コン筋クリート) – Another anime that I highly recommend; it’s stylistic and lush to look at (the backgrounds are works of art). The story – about two orphans who take on the yakuza – is multi-layered and moving. (Trailer.)

5. Usagi Yojimbo : Volumes 1– (兎用心棒), by Stan Sakai – This epic comic series is about Usagi, a samurai who happens to be a rabbit (everyone is some sort of animal). He’s modelled on the real-life samurai/swordsman/writer/philosopher, Miyamoto Musashi, whose life truly was epic. The 23rd volume is due out later this month.

6. Number9Dream, by David Mitchell – Grimm recommended this book, about 19-year-old Japanese student, Eiji, who has come to Tokyo to search for his father. There’s an excerpt to read here. It was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2001.

7. Naruto : Volumes 1- (ナルト) – Naruto Uzumaki is a young ninja-in-training. He also has the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox within him, which means that if he can control it he can be a pretty powerful ninja. There are at least 45 in the series (held at the library, anyway) so there’s a lot to keep you going. Failing that, there is …

8. all the other manga we have. Which is loads.

9. Aranzi Aronzo’s books, Cute Stuff and The Cute Book. Aranzi Aronzo is a Japanese company that specialise in ‘cute, strange, cool, silly, a little bit horrible, stupid and comfortable’ design, and these two books show you how to make some very, very cute (kawaii, or Japanese cute) felt toys. Cute! They have a website.

10. Sushi for Dummies, by Judi Strata – Knowing how to make sushi (寿司) is one of those skills that everyone should know, as it’s a) delicious and b) healthy as anything, and c) pretty easy to make. This book isn’t in the YA area but we must include it in this list anyway.

Top 10: Series about fabulous rich girls

The success of the Gossip Girl series has led to a number of similarly-themed series. They tend to have several things in common: the main characters are girls, who are rich, or share the same social circles as the über-rich, and they go to an exclusive private school; the books are usually set in (or near) New York; and most of the characters favour style over substance (afterall, it’s difficult to be friendly towards someone in a denim skirt). Sometimes they’re undead, or even just dead.

So here’s a list (in no particular order):

1. The Gossip Girl – The series so popular it’s now a television series! It’s set on the Upper East Side of Manhatten, which is New York’s Oriental Parade, only vastly more wealthy and stylish. No beach, however. The books are about a group of friends/enemies, their designer clothes and parties. The Gossip Girl herself anonymously writes about them. The school is called the Constance Billard School for Girls. There’s a gazillion books in the series.

2. The It Girl – The ‘It Girl’ in the title went to the Constance Billard School for Girls but was so poorly behaved she was sent to the very exclusive Waverly Prep boarding school. She will do anything – anything! – get to be one of the Waverly elite. This series is one of the two Gossip Girl spin-offs (all were created by Cecily von Ziegesar, but most are written by other people).

3. Gossip Girl: The Carlyles – The Carlyle triplets move from Nantucket to NYC after the death of their grandmother. They go to Constance Billard (and St. Jude’s School for Boys, for one of them is a boy) and quickly prove to be even more vicous – and fabulous – than Serena, Blair, etc. (Official website for Gossip Girl.)

4. The Ashleys, by Melissa De la Cruz – At Miss Gamble’s Preparatory School for Girls the three reigning princesses of popularity are all named Ashley; hence ‘The Ashleys’. New-comer Lauren is determined to enter their group. This series is set in San Francisco, and not New York, which is a shame but there you have it. (Official website.)

5. The Clique, by Lisi Harrison – The Clique are a group of girls who are the top of the popularity food chain at their private school.  The books are notable (according to the Library School Journal) for the characters’ cruelty. Awesome! It’s set in Westchester County, New York, where the X-Men hang out (incidentally). Who would win in a fight? The first book was made into a direct-to-DVD film, newly arrived at the library. (Official website.)

6. Inside Girl, by J Minter – Fourteen-year-old Flan Flood’s family are all incredibly beautiful socialites, but she decided to break with tradition and goes to a typical public school. It’s a spin-off from another series by J. Minter, The Insiders, which is more in keeping with the other series in this list. Set in and around lower Manhattan. (Official website.)

7. Pretty Little Liars, by Sara Shepard – Three years ago the leader (Alison) of a group of girls disappears. Now someone calling themselves ‘A’ is threatening to expose the secrets of the group, who all fit the Gossip Girl mold. With a bit of mystery thrown in, the series has been called ‘Desperate Housewives for teens.’ (Official website.)

8. Blue Bloods, by Melissa de la Cruz – Set amongst Manhattan’s elite teens, Blue Bloods throws vampirism into the mix. (Official website.)

9. Vampire Academy, by Rachelle Mead – St Vladimir’s is a private academy (in Montana, not NY) for vampires and the half-vampires who protect them. The series is notable for being set in a gritty and dark world which doesn’t hold back. Perhaps not so in keeping with this list, but the academy is about as exclusive as it gets and one of the main characters is a princess. A vampire princess. (Official website.)

10. The Luxe, by Anna Godberson – Most reviewers remark that this series is essentially Gossip Girl – Manhattan, rich glamorous people, and so on – set in 1899. I’m not sure what the ‘Luxe’ in the title refers to, but funnily enough 1899 was the year that Lux soap was launched in the UK. (Official website.)

Top 10: Books with Music

There’s a surprising amount of music-themed literature in the library; here is but a small sample.

  1. Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, by David Levithan & Rachel Cohn – He wrote Nick, she wrote Norah, which is really the only way I can imagine writing a novel properly with someone else.
  2. Pop Princess, by Rachel Cohn – With a name like Wonder Blake it’s only a matter of time before she becomes one (a pop princess) by way of a music competition.
  3. Fat Kid Rules the World, by K. L. Going – Curt is a skinny punk genius and Troy is an overweight social leper, together they make a fabulous music odd couple and a cool story about turning your life around.
  4. Beige, by Cecil Castellucci – Katy (who is nicknamed “Beige” by her friend who thinks she, well, lacks a bit of colour) goes to live with her father, an “aging punk rock legend”. There’s a soundtrack that goes along, or rather a “suggested listening list”, so it’s a multi-sensory experience.
  5. Duet, by David Hill – classical and popular music do mix, with awkward, life-long ramifications, in this New Zealand romance.
  6. Gangsta Rap, by Benjamin Zephaniah – Ray, Prem and Tyronne form a rap group in London and they’re a hit, but rap and violence often go together.
  7. Just Listen, by Sarah Dessen – Owen’s mix CDs, one mysteriously called “Just Listen” help pull Annabel out of her shell and face her demons.
  8. Rock Star, Superstar, by Blake Nelson – Being in a popular rock band sounds ideal, but it tests Pete’s relationship with his girlfriend, Margaret.
  9. The Last Days, by Scott Westerfeld – The sequel to Peeps; here the chapter titles are all band names, and the evil beneath New York is back (with the rats).
  10. The Commitments, Roddy Doyle (thanks to Reading Rants – I forgot about this one) – Both the book and the movie were a huge smash hit in the very early 1990s. Ride, Sally, ride.

Top 10: Steampunk

Steampunk Laptop by the Flickr user vonslatt, click for original sourceUsually set in the 19th century (where steam was the superpower), but containing elements of fantasy or science fiction, steampunk stuff features a lot of machinery with cogs, knobs, levers and most importantly steam. Think magnificent flying machines and infernal devices (courtesy of Philip Reeve, K W Jeter and soon, worryingly, Cassandra Clare)… Leonardo-type contraptions without the linseed oil.

  1. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Jane Austen (who would have thought?) and Seth Grahame-Smith
  2. Airman, Eoin Colfer
  3. Larklight, Starcross and Mothstorm, Philip Reeve (children’s fiction)
  4. Mortal Engines quartet, Philip Reeve (and now Fever Crumb)
  5. The Sally Lockhart mysteries and His Dark Materials trilogy, Philip Pullman
  6. Girl Genius, Kaja Foglio (graphic novel series)
  7. Airborn, Skybreaker and Starclimber, Kenneth Oppel
  8. Perdido Street Station (and Un Lun Dun), China Miéville
  9. The Prestige, Christopher Priest
  10. The Steampunk Trilogy, Paul Di Filippo

And some movies:

  1. Howl’s Moving Castle
  2. Van Helsing
  3. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
  4. The Prestige
  5. Stardust

Interested in doing some research? Start by checking the links on the Wikipedia page.

Top 10: pushing play

This isn’t really a Top 10 list as such, since I know zero about sports fiction and have no idea what’s top and what’s not; this is more a selection of young adult fiction that has sporting themes of different sorts. See what you think anyway. Let me know if you’ve read a good sports book recently too (I refrained from putting my favourite book here, Life at these Speeds, but, oh no, there I go, I’ve mentioned it anyway (athletics)).

  1. book coverAmazing Grace, Megan Shull (tennis)
  2. Ironman, Chris Crutcher (triathlon)
  3. Hero, Perry Moore. This is sport but with superheroes. It’s good.
  4. Rash, Pete Hautman. Reading Rants (which is a great review website, by the way) suggests this is futuristic, dystopian and involves football.
  5. Soccer Chick Rules, Dawn Fitzgerald (football)
  6. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, Chris Crutcher (swimming)
  7. book coverBall Don’t Lie, Matt de la Pena (basketball)
  8. How to Ditch Your Fairy, by Justine Larbalestier. When I first saw this book I thought “Nooooo!”. I mean, it seems very silly, but everyone actually likes it. Charlie is a freshman at a sports school and has the misfortune of having a personal parking fairy (as opposed to, for example, an “all the boys think you’re wonderful” type fairy) – you can see why I had doubts.
  9. book coverDairy Queen, by Catherine Gilbert Murdock. This is football of the American variety, and the main character is female, which seems refreshing. People like this book (I haven’t read it yet), and its sequel The Off Season.
  10. Alex, Tessa Duder. The great New Zealand literary swimming sensation.

Top 10 Music Videos

Lately we’ve been talking about our favourite music videos a lot. Much time has been spent/wasted on the subject, all so we can share with you our top ten, Here they are …

10. First up are cooler than cool French duo Justice with the video for D.A.N.C.E. Check out the album here

Read More

Top 10: 2008, the year of the graphic novel

The American Library Association, together with its rather unattractive website*, has produced a list of 10 great graphic novels/ series that were published in 2008. We even have some, which I’ll list below.

book coverLife Sucks, by Jessica Abel, Gabriel Soria and Warren Pleece

Japan Ai: A Tall Girl’s Adventures in Japan, by Aimee Major Steinberger 

book coverSkim, by Mariko Tamaki; drawings by Jillian Tamaki

The Umbrella Academy. Volume 1, Apocalypse suite, by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba 

(I feel almost exactly like one of those Academy Award presenters typing that, but without the frock and the fame and the botox.)

* sorry sorry, but it’s true!

Top 10 Albums for 2008

Even though most people just download remixes from the Hypemachine these days, lots of albums were still released this year and some of them were really good. Here are the ten of the best we have at the library. Some are in the YA section, and some aren’t (so will cost to issue).

1. MGMT – Oracular Spectacular
A couple of weirdo hippies making a psychadelic-electro album with Prince-esque disco moments sounds like a fantastic idea. And it was, even if ‘Kids’ ends up as this year’s ‘Hey Ya’ in terms of ubiquity. Perfect for summer.

2. TV on the Radio – Dear Science
This is TV on the Radio’s third album and also their most danceable. David Bowie is a huge fan and so am I.

3. Black Seeds – Solid Ground
The Black Seeds keep on pushing out the reggae/dub and this, their fourth album shows that they might just be the best around at doing it.

4. Radiohead – The Best Of
You could pretty much burn a cd of 18 random Radiohead songs and it would rule. A great starting point for a great band.

5. Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles
Electro + Punk Attitude = Awesome. Mathematics never lies.

6. Last Shadow Puppets – The Age of the Understatement
Artic Monkey, Alex Turner’s “other” band delivered this fine effort and I for one hope that it won’t be a one-off side project. One of the coolest sounding albums I’ve ever come across.

7. Ladyhawke – Ladyhawke
Finally! It’s Blondie for the new millenium. And she’s from Wellington. And she’s really cute, sigh.

8. The Black Keys – Attack & Release
I went to see these guys live earlier this year and they were mighty impressive. The production by Danger Mouse adds an extra layer to their potent blues rock.

9. Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours
Australian electro at its very best. Another great summer album.

10. These New Puritans – Beat Pyramid
This makes it on the list for a few reasons; Cross by Justice came out in 2007 so I needed one more, Simon really likes them, and I’ve had Elvis stuck in my head for at least 6 months. Oh yeah, it’s a really good album too.

Here are the videos from each (after the Read more …):

Read More

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