Tag Archives: Books

Love, Fantasy and Magic

Winning YA novels

Love, fantasy and magic are the common themes between two of the winning categories of the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults announced last night – Best Young Adult Fiction and Best First Book. For a full list of all the winners see here.

The Best Young Adult Fiction prize went to Elizabeth Knox for Mortal Fire, described by Paula Green as “a story of love, desire, friendship and teenage turning points, yet it is much more. It is also a story of politics – the lengths a community will go to stop a hydro dam flooding their precious Zarene Valley. It is a story of outsiderness, whether through the colour of one’s skin, abilities or bloodline. Above all, it is a story of trust.” She goes on to say that “Knox writes with such a graceful hand that the story (despite its mist, steam and smoke) reverberates with exquisite clarity.”
The Best First Book award went to R.L. Stedman for A Necklace of Souls, a book that won the Storylines Tessa Duder Award for Young Adult Fiction in 2012, and already has an average rating of 3.83 stars (out of five) on Goodreads.

Rachel enjoyed researching for A Necklace of Souls and surprisingly “read a lot of books about things like knife fighting and breadmaking” in the process, which she recorded in the form of a research board on Pinterest. Last year when she was asked what was the best thing about being a writer, she replied, “You get to write :). Most writers seem to really like finding out new things. I think most writers are little like ‘fact magpies’ we get to learn new stuff every day and we can call it ‘research.’ For example, through writing A Necklace of Souls, I learned a lot about knife fighting. I read a whole lot (and watched a lot of you-tube videos) about Kali knife fighting, which is from the Philippines. And I know how long an English longbow is – over seven foot. That is taller than most men. Do you know, if you use a long bow a lot, the bones in one arm grow heavier than the other? Skeletons of archers have bigger left arm-bones than the right. That is why writing is so cool, you get to learn random stuff every day. (Makes you good in quizzes, too!)”
Mrs H.

Spud – Exit, pursued by a bear

The Spud books are a series of very funny stories about John Milton,  and his experiences at a South African boarding school for boys, not too dissimilar to King’s College. If you want a change from “life and death adventure stories” and you fancy a “laugh out loud” school story you can’t go wrong with Spud.

The story starts on John’s first day at school, and his adventures (both at home with his mad family, and at school with the “crazy eight”) are  written in the form of a diary. Spud, it turns out is the nickname John is given by the boys in his House. You will have to read the books to find out why.  The books in order are are:

  1. Spud
  2. Spud – The Madness Continues…
  3. Spud – Learning to Fly
  4. Spud – Exit, pursued by a Bear

The fourth and final book in the series by John van de Ruit will soon be in the library, and the second film Spud – The Madness Continues was released in South Africa in June.

John van de Ruit on Twitter

John van de Ruit on Wikipedia

Spud The Movie – Crazy 8 interview

Mrs H.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief is a powerful  novel about “the ability of books to feed the soul “.  It is set in Nazi, Germany and was inspired by stories told to the author by his family. The film is due out in November 2013 in the USA, but wont be released in New Zealand until 2014. This gives us all plenty of time to read, or re-read, the book. The film stars Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Sophie Nelisse, and Ben Schnetzer.  After watching the trailer Markus Zusak (who was born in Sydney, Australia) wrote: “As I said to a few people close by ….”I’m fine! I’ve just got something in my eye!” It looks absolutely stunning, and it’s very hard to hold the emotion at bay.”

“Usually we walk around constantly believing ourselves. “I’m okay” we say. “I’m alright”. But sometimes the truth arrives on you and you can’t get it off. That’s when you realize that sometimes it isn’t even an answer–it’s a question. Even now, I wonder how much of my life is convinced.” From The Book Thief.

Read more about Markus Zusak and how he writes.

Markus Zusak on Facebook

Markus Zusak on Tumlr ” Every morning, in the city, in the dark, I walk two dogs and collect stray thoughts. This is where I put them, before I start work – the only place I write when I’m not writing a book.”

Markus Zusak on Twitter where he describes himself as a “Writer, mistake-maker, and fan of Sam-I-Am…I wrote The Book Thief, but still not sure how. Most tweets are replies.”

Mrs H.

What sort of a reader are you?

Where do you read? What do you read? How do you treat the books you read, and what does this say about you?  Read on and enjoy this graphic by Laura E. Kelly  (Click to view at original large size.)
What Species of Reader Are You?--Infographic
Mrs H.

What sort of reader are you?

Where do you read? What do you read? How do you treat the books you read, and what does this say about you?  Read on and enjoy this graphic by

  Laura E. Kelly  (Click to view at original large size.)
What Species of Reader Are You?--Infographic
Mrs H.

100 best opening lines from Children’s Books

We’ll all have our favourites among the books we had read to us when we were children. And among those we discovered for ourselves as we developed into the readers we are today.

Children's books

This photograph could show some of your favourites – or not.

But here’s a link to the Stylist‘s webpage with a huge selection of classic  favourites. How many of your favourite books are featured? It’s worth a look just for nostalgic reasons – to  remind us why reading is so fascinating.

Mr F



Shift by Em Bailey

Beach at night - Photo by Rina

Beach at night – Photo by Rina

Shift is a psychological thriller and I couldn’t put it down. It is the story about Olive, and when the book begins we know that there has been some sort of incident (we are not sure what)  and she is trying to get back to some sort of normal routine at school by staying well away from “the queen bee” in class. But then strange and dangerous things start to happen. Are they real, or is Olive imaging them? As one character says:

“Some things aren’t straightforward. Not everything is true or false, real or imaginary, black or white. It’s not that simple.”

Get it from the library in print form, or download it, like I did, as an eBook at http://kingscollege.wheelers.co

And if you are intrigued to know more about the author Em Bailey then you can read her answers to Ten Terrifying Questions here on the Booktopia blog.

Mrs H.

Divergent a must read for Hunger Games fans

The first book in the series

The first book in the series

If you really enjoyed The Hunger Games series and you are at a bit of a loss to know what to read next, then have a look at the excellent  Must Reads for Hunger Games Fans list. This has been put together by two American sisters, Leslie and Julia, on their blog “Twobusybrunettes”. You can download the list which includes a Hunger Games similarity rating and a book description for 25 books; this should certainly keep you going.

In fact we have many of the books on this list in our library including Divergent by Veronica Roth. The “Twobusybrunettes” give it an 8 out of 8 star rating for similarity. It takes a few chapters to set the scene and then the pace really steps up. The second book in the series, Insurgent is equally exciting and the third book is due to be published later this year. It should be no surprise to learn that a film is planned directed by Neil Burger with Shailene Woodley cast as Tris, and Kate Winslet possibly about to join the cast.

If you can’t wait for the film due to be released in 2014, then I recommend you read the book and have a look at this trailer.

Mrs H.

100 Essential Reads for the Lifelong Learner

With the holidays right upon us, you could well find some time for reading. Here’s a list I came upon this morning – it should keep you going for quite a few holidays! You won’t find all of them in our library, but as the picture above shows, we do have some to get you started.

Mr F

A Tornado of Books

Another piece of Book Art, this time from the blog, “My Modern Met.” There are other pictures here also from the artist, Alicia Martin, together with a video showing her Cordoba installation (and how its book pages flutter in the wind) in its its physical setting.

Fascinating as they are, I still think I prefer “reading” books to using them as “Book Art.”

Mr F