Book Trailer

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

CRAA fluffy cloud of funny romantic froth! This is not my usual sort of book but having seen the shorts of the movie and thought it cute, I wanted to find out more. At the same time one of the Yr 10s at my all boys school asked me to buy it for the library and I was all YES!!! So, I gave it a spin and I loved it. So much fun, so many designer labels, so many witty one liners and a really good fun read.

It is the story of Nick and Rachel who meet and fall in love. Nick decides they should go on holiday in his home of Singapore. What he neglects to tell Rachel, an eminently sensible, intelligent and practical young woman, is that he comes from one of the richest families in Singapore and that the wedding they are attending while there, of Nick’s best friend, is the wedding of the decade! Rachel finds herself swept into a world she has no idea about, she is aghast at the wealth she sees and simply cannot believe that this extreme wealth is normal for her lovely boyfriend. She discovers the terrible rich bitch girls and finds unexpected kindness in the form of Nick’s cousins Astrid and Sophie.

There is also the story of Rachel’s background, her Mum’s sad experiences as a young woman and the struggle she had to keep Rachel from finding out the truth about these.

This is just perfect as a book to read as an escape from some of the sad books that are around at the moment, it is a perfect escape book. I thoroughly enjoyed it as a change from the usual.   Click this link to see the movie trailer.

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

WhatYou can see the Netflix series playing out in your mind as you read this rather lovely book.

Arthur is working for his mum in her law office in New York, the family have moved there for the summer and Arthur has an internship doing the filing. He has cool gossipy workmates who are incredibly entertaining, they look out for him and make the job interesting and fun.

Ben is stuck in summer school, not his ideal way to spend the summer. He has broken up with his boyfriend, it is hard, he is a bit broken. Worse the ex is also attending summer school so he has to see him all the time and that is sad and hard.

Arthur meets Ben at the Post Office in the midst of a flash mob, it is the cutest thing. Love at first sight but then they spend the next while trying to find each other. They don’t have many clues, but this is love, they need to find each other. So investigations take place, they get everyone involved in the search and of course, when all seems lost they find each other. Ohhhh my poor wee heart just went all gooey! Now we have them working through all the stuff of the past, thinking about the future and dealing with life as it plays out for them. This is the summer of dreams but sometimes it is the summer of angst. There are heaps of lovely references to gay culture, musicals, coffee shops that are amazing – though I’ve had plenty of coffee in New York and I’m skeptical about these – this is a New York story with a thoroughly New York state of mind.

I feel a bit bad for the 3 stars, it is really a firm 3.5. I felt that it was just a bit wordy. It took a tiny bit too long for things to happen and while the chat in the book is so brilliant and witty and on point, there is just too much of it. The cuteness is just so lovely, the banter excellent, the families of the boys are so nice, so accepting of their interesting and complicated gay kids. I loved it when the two families had dinner together. Seriously, this is so nice! Like a romantic froth of powder blue tulle! Like puppies and kittens. Like my dog on Insta! It just needed a bit of substance.

I think this will be a huge hit. And I’m so pleased that books like this are becoming mainstream. Here are the authors talking about it.

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D Schmidt

jupiterThis is an absolute gem of a book. I loved the characters from page 1, I shed tears at the terrible things that had happened to Joseph in his young life, I desperately wanted things to be ok for him. This tiny and completely perfectly formed novel is one I meant to read ages ago but didn’t quite get to, I’m so pleased I’ve read it now. It is the story of Joseph who has been removed from his abusive father, sent to prison due to something terrible that he did to a teacher because a kid gave him drugs and he went crazy. He loved a girl and fathered a child and now he is being fostered by the kindest family you could ever meet. But Joseph is so damaged it seems like he might never thaw from the angry, het up, damaged young man he has become. His foster brother desperately wants to melt him and over time you see the relationship between the two boys develop over a shared love of cows and the trials of going to school in the most miserable climate you can imagine.

Gary D. Schmidt does place so well, you feel so much for these people living in this miserable cold, you feel the skin on their fingers freezing and their breath turning to ice crystals. You feel the warmth of the animals and your emotions are tugged and pulled at the beautiful sparse writing. Crikey this is good!

If you are a high school librarian and you haven’t read this and don’t have it in your collection you are missing a gem. Buy 3 copies and share this with your reluctant readers, your country kids and your teachers.

And look!  Molly made a book trailer for it.

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman


Well, thank goodness for that! It would have been so upsetting if this novel hadn’t lived up to the first in the series. The ending sets us up brilliantly for a third and gives us a new hero, but that is getting ahead of things.

The story picks up with Rowan reinventing himself from Scythe to justice maker, he is taking the bad out of the Scythes. Expunging the bad and keeping the good. This is of course totally outside the rules and he is in hiding. Citra is now a fully fledged Scythe and is working alongside Marie, her humane approach to killing is not efficient and she is under pressure to work faster. She gives people time to prepare for death and there is an argument that she should be working more efficiently. Back from the dead is Goddard, evil as ever, he wants control of all the Scythes and sets about making that happen. Citra is a threat to him, so he is out to get her.

This story is full of great twists and turns, unexpected characters from the past and with an ending which sets you up nicely for the next one. I don’t know anybody who hasn’t loved these books and I think this is an author who is so reliable that you can trust him to take you on an exciting and thrilling ride. That is certainly the case with this book. As we powered towards the end, the tension was full on!

My boys are fighting to get their hands on this and I’m going to need lots of copies. A very good read.

Sparrow by Scot Gardner

SparrowOne of the best books I’ve read this year! Scot Gardner is one of my favourite authors, he gets teenagers and he writes them well. This one is particularly good. It is the story of a boy called Sparrow, it takes place in dual time settings, beginning on an uninhabited island where he has washed up after his ship sinks, this island is far from idyllic, there are terrible creatures everywhere all of which want to hurt (or even eat) him. We also meet Sparrow before this happens when he is living on the street, helping out in cafes to try and get free food to keep himself from starving. We begin to find out how he ended up in this situation and there is nothing good about his past life. He has been abused, mistreated, lied to and abandoned. Despite all this Sparrow is loveable and kind to others.

Sparrow’s journey from abandoned urchin to imprisoned youth is gripping. I fell in love with him from the very first sentence and I cried at some of the appalling things that happened to him. Sparrow’s relationship with the cafe people is wonderfully written, very realistic, full of pathos and at times raw and edgy.

If you are looking for books for teenage boys just head out and buy all of his books for them. They are properly real and beautifully constructed, but their real beauty is in the characters of realistic boys who deal with the crap life throws at them in amazing ways. A real contender for my YA book of the year.

Below is Scot Gardner reading the first chapter.  You should definitely listen to it. Definitely!

The Night Circus by Erin Morgernstern

Well first I discovered the website for this book.  Have a look here (you’ll have to sign in with a Facebook or Twiter account) and tell me you aren’t a little intrigued.  A friend of mine had read this book and just loved and adored it so I thought “best I give it a whirl”  The Night Circus is the result of a challenge, a long standing competition between two magicians.  In this case a young girl, Celia and Marco a young boy in the early days, rescued from the streets and trained to high levels of magicianship.  The two have studied, trained and honed their skills, which are then shown off in the Night circus.  The mysterious circus all in black and white which arrives in a town in the middle of the night and then after a few days, just as mysteriously disappears only to turn up in another location.

This is however a love story, Celia and Marco despite themselves, fall in love.  This is not in the plan!  They have a dilemma.  They compete for superiority of magic within the confines of the circus, the performers and the public love the circus and don’t want it threatened, and yet there must be a winner in the competition of skill which will probably lead to the destruction of the circus.

It is a lyrical book, magic and imagination run wild in it.  I found myself liking it instantly but then getting a bit bogged down in the details in the middle, I put it down, wandered off reading something else for a bit, then came back to it and polished it off in an afternoon.  It is a gorgeous story, full of the mystical and mysterious and if you are looking for that in a book then this is bound to be a treat.  My favourite characters were the twins and Bailey.  Read it to find out who they are.  Book trailer below.

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

I’m doing a crosspost here, this is also posted on the school blog.  This book is so aptly named.  It is a wondrously beautiful book.  It is big, it is beautifully designed and it contains a really well crafted story, both in words and in pictures.  Wonderstruck is one of those books which will appeal to lots of people for lots of different reasons.  If you read books for a great story this book has one.  If you love art, drawing and design, this book has loads to offer you.  If you think books are things to be treasured then Wonderstruck is certainly one which people will want to treasure.  It is a book to buy as a present, it is a book to own.  But first you might want to borrow it from the library.  The first book by Brian Selznick is a poor battered thing in our library because it has been so widely read over the years.  There is a blog post about it here.

Wonderstruck is two stories, one told in pictures and one told with words.  It is the story of a young girl living in New York who runs away from home, and it is also the story of a young boy 50 years later in a small lakeside town.  You know that somehow the two stories will connect and when they do it is a moment of wonder.

Below is a video of the author, walking around inside the incredibly detailed drawings from the book.  This author is truly one of the great authors for young people today and I hope lots of our students pick up the book and take it home and spend time in the world of Wonderstruck.

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

I am a sucker for a concept novel.  I like novels around a theme, with extra bits and pieces, with added online content, it it has bells and whistles, quirky goodness, tricky little gizmos, I’m going to buy it.  This does not always guarantee an excellent read!  I have spent a vast fortune – well a small fortune – buying the book with the awesome cover, just because it had an awesome cover.  That folks is why I bought this book.  Oh but it was a gooden, yay!

Filled with weird old photos of children who were the residents of a home for ‘peculiar’ children, this book is the story of Jacob’s Jewish Grandfather, and Jacob’s search for the truth behind his death, the dreams that plague him, the bizarre sight he saw as his beloved Grandfather lay dying in his arms.  Jacob is on a quest for the truth.  The truth it turns out is very scary, very hard to believe – in short very peculiar.  The photographs sit alongside the story, helping you to visualise the peculiar children and their very peculiar attributes.  I’m not giving more away than this for fear of ruining the surprises.

This book kept me up until 1am last night.  I just had to get to the end and find out what happened to Miss Peregrine and what decisions Jacob would make.  I was hooked from page 1 and basically did nothing else yesterday but read this book.  It is a cross-over novel, fits nicely into Young Adult or Adult and is a treat book.  Lovely!  Book trailer below.

Room by Emma Donoghue

It has taken a bit of mulling over this book.  It is so cleverly done that it seems simplistic, but it really isn’t.  Not in the least.  This book is told through the eyes of a five year old boy who has been cooped up in a room (the Room of the title) for all his short life.  His mother was kidnapped at the age of 19 and has not been out of the room since then, her kidnapper visits at night to take what he feels is rightfully his and he hasn’t seen the child since he was a small baby.  An impressive feat on behalf of the mother who has set up a bed in a wardrobe for the child and has kept the child and the father completely apart despite the confines of the tiny space they live in.

Jack (the child) is comfortable in his world, understands his world and his Ma has nurtured, loved and taken care to teach him all she knows without him even realising that the world outside is not just on the television he is allowed to watch from time to time.  Jack’s view of the outside world is one of the most fascinating things about the book, but there are plenty of other wonderful and insightful things that this author has done.  The naming of things, the concept of ‘The Sunday Treat’, the subtle hints along the way that Ma is realising what the future trapped in this tiny space will mean.

This book is one of those books which people find it hard to discuss with those who haven’t read it.  You don’t want to give too much away.  You want to encourage everyone you know to read it.  You need others who have read it to chat with and discuss lots of the issues the book raises.   It is a tricky thing, I don’t want anybody who hasn’t read the book to have an inkling of what the two characters in the book will have happen to them.  So really, if you haven’t read it then get hold of a copy and devour it in a day or so like I did, then spend a week with it haunting you.   Below is the publishers book trailer.

The passage by Justin Cronin

This is one of those books which is huge, enormous and epic and which takes over your life until you have made it through the 900 odd pages.  If you decide to embark on this journey you should be warned that you will achieve absolutely nothing else until it is done.  Housework – on hold, cooking – on hold, contact with friends – on hold, sleep – also on hold.  Gripping, creepy and compelling.  It was a jolly good job that it was school holidays when I was reading this!

Scientists investigating a mysterious illness in South America unwittingly unleash a nightmare virus which ultimately kills most of the world’s population and those that it doesn’t kill are turned into blood thirsty, evil vampirelike creatures.  These are not like vampires you’ve met before, no Twilight romantic notions of hot kids frolicking here.  They devour victims with alarming speed and are menacing and uneasy.  The book doesn’t dwell on them so much as the survivors.  It is the story of Amy, who is the key to everything,  A death row prisoner, one of those affected early and whose telekinetic powers compel others and not in a good way.  There is the FBI agent (my favourite character in the book) who cares for Amy and there are Sarah and her brother, she has recorded the history so that we can read about it.  It is the story of destruction and of people who are kind to each other, even if it might not be a comfortable choice, it is a story of family and love and evil.

This is the first book in what I hear is going to be a trilogy, and I can’t wait for the next one, there will be a movie – of course.  I really enjoyed it, I was gripped almost completely all the way through.  There are a couple of places where I thought we could have moved on a bit more quickly but really, it is an excellent read.  Anybody who liked Under the Dome will hook right into this.  Highly recommended – but put your life on hold while you read it.

A tiny bit marvellous by Dawn French

This is the book I most wanted for Christmas this year, and after some wrangling with the cherubs about who would be the lucky one to hand over the book of choice this year, the lovely Megan came to the party and this was her present to me.  I wanted to love love love this book, the first couple of pages had me hooked in immediately and the teenage girl who gets the opening chapter bore a remarkable similarity to teenage girls I have parented!  However, just like the real variety this one gets tiring very quickly.  The teenage boy who has adopted camp in the style of Oscar Wilde is amusing for a couple of chapters and then – whaddya know is also irritating.  The Mum of the book is it’s saving grace, along with the fabulous Grandmother, who was the one character where you could really see Dawn’s wit and clever way with words coming through, I loved the tea and sympathy, but especially the terrifically pointed comments she provided along with fabulous cakes.

I spend a lot of time in recent years saying “where is the editor?” when I am reading, and I think this book could have been infinitely better with the help of a big red ballpoint.  It is a constant frustration to me that so much ‘non story’ slips into the books I read.

This is a mid-life crisis, chick-lit-ish kind of book and obviously I am only the target market of the first, and chick-lit is just not for me, not enough action, too much navel gazing for me.  I really like Dawn French and I’m pleased I read the book, despite it’s faults and my rather ordinary attitude to it once I got to half way, I had to pour myself a large glass and lock myself away to finish the thing.   I am going to try the lovely sounding cake recipes at the end of the book.  Below is the promo for the book..

White Cat by Holly Black

This is an interesting book, the first in a series of three called The Curse Workers but the only published yet.  Magic has been outlawed since 1929 and the people who are able to perform it are divided into various kinds, along with this there is a sort of mafia with five important families all wanting to be on top of the heap.  There are several different kinds of Curse Workers who have powers such as the power to induce or remove memories, to manipulate emotions, to transform things into animate and inanimate objects.  Everyone has to wear gloves because the slightest touch can kill you if you touch the wrong curse worker.  It is all very complex.

Cassel is the main character, the only member of his family with no special skills, he is at boarding school, running a very successful betting scam amongst the well to do teenagers.  We meet him in the middle of the night when he wakes up on the roof of his dorm having had a dream about a white cat, he finds not only the cat looking at him but also all the other residents of his school.  He gets excluded by the Principal and so begins a huge adventure involving lots of violence, underhanded dealing, a little bit of romance and a great big mystery.

Cassel has to deal with his dastardly brothers who he figures out are up to large amounts of no good, and who are getting him involved in a major way and he needs to sort out the mystery of the girl he killed, and cope with his Mother being sent to jail, his Grandfather being sacked by the mafia and his brothers wife behaving in a most odd manner, oh and there is more.  Confused?  I was a bit.  There is a lot going on, and yes I know you are being set up for a trilogy but I occasionally got a bit lost.

It is really good, but with the complex story line you kind of have to put your brain on hold and just keep reading to deal with all the information,  you will get there in the end and I was pretty caught up in the story by the time the book was nearly done.  I really engaged with the characters in the end and I look forward to the next one.  I think it is going to be a ‘hot right now’ book.  Holly Black is the author of the Spiderwick Chronicles which I really liked a few years ago and she is a pretty good author, teenagers will love this book.  Book Trailer here

It’s a book by Lane Smith and Mirror by Jeannie Baker

I read this gorgeous book yesterday while whiling away half an hour in the University Bookshop,  (they won the retailer of the year award here in Dunedin this year, and for me, heaven is just like the UBS but with coffee, oh and wine, and high count cotton sheets – I could go on!) anyway I was  looking for a present for the lovely Gemma Cupcake Tagg who was born on Wednesday.  Gemma belongs to Stewart and Adrienne (Dunedin is for Lovers) and is totally spectacular as babies go!

This is one of those ‘for all ages’ books.  I absolutely intend to buy it for school next year when I have budget again, it would be a great read aloud and is cute and funny.  The lovely ironic look at technology versus traditional reading is cool.  Watch the video and you’ll smile.

I also found the amazing Mirror by Jeannie Baker.  What a beautiful book it is.  Clever and interesting and collage – my favourite medium.  I have all the Jeannie Baker books so will buy this as a treat for myself, the sheer amount of work that she must put into the art in the books is staggering. The format is really interesting, two books side by side, you turn over the pages of the book on both sides and the story of the two separate characters, one of an Australian boy and on the opposite side a boy from Morocco, it is hard to describe and you should check out the video below for a look at it rather than have me inadequately describe how it works.

The sweetness at the bottom of the pie by Alan Bradley

Oh Gosh!  What a charming read!  Set in a crumbling manor house called Buckshaw, with an 11 year old chemistry wizz heroine who solves crimes, escapes from certain death and is bold and brave beyond measure this is a lovely book.  When a body is found in the cucumber patch Flavia decides to investigate.  England in 1950, was gripped in the post war poverty for the previously monied classes and maintaining one’s large family home was somewhat of a challenge, there is no money for entertainment so the sisters Ophelia, Daphne and Flavia are left to their own devices and this only enhances their quirky personalities.  Flavia is busy, she is trying to torture her sisters (poison in the lipstick!) in response to their torture of her, and trying to solve the mystery of her deceased Mother, the facts about Dogger, the man of all trades about the house, and their mysterious, vague and isolated Father.

The book is written by an American which is interesting, his tone is that of a bygone age (nearly all the time) and the long last art of philately gets a good outing in this book.

I didn’t love this book until the action really hotted up and then I found myself speeding madly towards the end.  It is flawed, but perfect.  Will be reading the next one which is fabulously called The weed that strings the hangman’s bag.

Under the dome by Stephen King

It is a very very long time since I have read a book this incredibly big.  It is close to 900 pages and it has taken me nearly two weeks to read the thing!  I picked it up thinking I would have a look, see if I thought I’d like it and within 5 pages was completely hooked.  I have only read three Stephen King’s and have really enjoyed all of them, my particular fave is The girl who loved Tom Gordon, which is an old one but well worth reading if you can find it.  It sits nicely for teenagers who enjoyed Hatchet by Gary Paulsen when they were younger.

Under the dome is the story of a small American town which is cut off from the world at 10am one Saturday morning when a large dome descends upon it and cuts it off from the rest of humanity.  The dome is impenetrable and so life in the town becomes a dog eat dog survival story.  The boss of the town is the Second Selectman Jim Rennie and he rules with an iron fist, the other two Selectmen are merely puppets doing his bidding.  Jim is not a good man.  Are small towns in America really run with just a couple of people making all the decisions on everything from the hospitals to the footpath?  Wasn’t sure about this.  There are a bunch of characters and many of them are recognisable characters from any small town.  There are lots of funny moments and lots of typical small town politics and megalomania.

Stephen King is a great writer, he hooks you in, he keeps the pace up so that you have to keep on finding out what is going on, the chapters are a decent length and within each chapter he keeps changing the angle of the story.  I particularly like his snarky sense of humour and the way every now and then he does an overview section where he takes a look at all the different situations and gives a run down of what is going on, kind of an eye of God sort of thing.  It is great for keeping you up to speed with all the characters – and there are a lot of them – and for reminding you of where you are in the timeframe of the story.  I like the way he makes characters who are minor players come into their own when you aren’t expecting them to, and he gives you gentle hints that although this particular thing you are reading about might not be important now it will be in the end.  Great storytelling.  Get a copy, sit yourself down and spend time under the dome.  And stay off the wikipedia site for this book because it gives you the ending in the first couple of lines and that is very downright annoying when you are within 200 pages of the end.  Loved it!  Check out the book trailer and I fully expect to see a movie of this book eventually, they’d be crazy not to make one.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfield

This book is the most beautifully produced thing.  The cover is gorgeous, the drawings within are lovely and it feels fantastic in the hands.  I have loved Scott Westerfields other work and so saved this one as a treasure to read just prior to the holidays.  I’m still not sure if I really liked it.  I thought it was clever and really liked the way true historical facts were melded with fiction.  The characters were interesting at first, but I didn’t really develop a relationship with them, it is the first in the series so maybe as time goes on they will develop and grow.  I had watched  the book trailer below prior to reading it but the Darwinist angle still surprised me a bit, mixing up the genes of animals to make war machines – it’s a bit bizarre – G.E. and cloning gone mad essentially.  I feel a bit like I am damning the book with faint praise and it will be interesting to see what the boys at school think of it.  I will promote it enthusiastically and see what happens.  I can tell you though that they will certainly be attracted to the gorgeous cover that’s for sure.

The girl who played with fire by Stieg Larsson

The second book in the Millennium series.  I declare right here that I haven’t read the first one, The girl with the dragon tattoo, but I saw the movie, see the post below, and was assured that the second book picks up the story pretty much from where the movie ends.  It is a seamless flow, well done to the movie makers for putting almost all of the first book in the movie.  The character of Lisbet Salander is very cool, she kicks butt, she has a well defined set of morals even if the code is somewhat different from what would be considered the norm.  This book has mountains of action, it keeps the pace fast and even though there are multiple characters with hard to remember names (which can seem rather similar at times) you don’t get lost.  It is fantastic.  No 3 in the series is waiting for me and as soon as I’ve had a wee break from Sweden for a couple of weeks I will get right into it.  Can’t wait.  Below is the trailer for the book series from the Australian publishers. Here is the link to Stieg Larsson’s website.  As most people probably know he wrote all three books, presented them to his publisher and then tragically died.  What a loss, these thrillers are intelligent, clever, and very controversial.  There has been debate in my local library world about whether they should be in the school library given the violence and drama, but as I sit here there is much worse than what these books contain happening on my television right now, so they will be in our library.  It would be a shame to deny the clever readers the opportunity to read these beautifully written books.

Special Topics in Calamity Physics Video by Calamitous Physicist – MySpace Video

This is a very weird book.  One of those ones that seem to lead you on a path and then switch back and you aren’t where you thought you’d be.  Anyway here is the book trailer, love these things.  There are heaps of them out there that I have discovered recently.  But this one kinda really shows the book in all it’s interestingness.

Special Topics in Calamity Physics Video by Calamitous Physicist – MySpace Video

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