Thursday, 27 February 2014

Brand Spanking New YA Fiction

We have just received quite a bit of new young adult fiction in the libraries this week so I thought I would share some the books that caught my eye as I was preparing them for the library shelves.

The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant - Joanna Wiebe

So many secrets for such a small island. From the moment Anne Merchant arrives at Cania Christy, a boarding school for the world’s wealthiest teens, the hushed truths of this strange, unfamiliar land begin calling to her—sometimes as lulling drumbeats in the night, sometimes as piercing shrieks.

One by one, unanswered questions rise. No one will tell her why a line is painted across the island or why she is forbidden to cross it. Her every move—even her performance at the school dance—is graded as part of a competition to become valedictorian, a title that brings rewards no one will talk about. And Anne discovers that the parents of her peers surrender million-dollar possessions to enroll their kids in Cania Christy, leaving her to wonder what her lowly funeral director father could have paid to get her in… and why.

As a beautiful senior struggles to help Anne make sense of this cloak-and-dagger world without breaking the rules that bind him, she must summon the courage to face the impossible truth—and change it—before she and everyone she loves is destroyed by it.

This Song Will Save Your Life -Leila Sales

Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.

When I was the Greatest - Jason Reynolds

Ali lives in Bed-Stuy, a Brooklyn neighborhood known for guns and drugs, but he and his sister, Jazz, and their neighbors, Needles and Noodles, stay out of trouble until they go to the wrong party, where one gets badly hurt and another leaves with a target on his back.

Iris is an aspiring actress, so when Mick, a well-known visiting Aussie director, takes an interest in her, she's flattered. He's fourteen years older, attractive, smart, charming and sexy--in other words, nothing like her hapless ex-boyfriend, Tommy. But when Iris and Mick start a secret relationship, she soon witnesses Mick's darker side, and his temper frightens her. Before long, she becomes the target of his rage, but she makes endless excuses for him. Isolated and often in pain, Iris struggles to continue going to school, where she is preparing for her role as Ophelia. When her family and friends begin to realize that something is terribly wrong, Iris defends her man, but she also takes the first tentative steps toward self-preservation.

The Lure

Fifteen-year-old Blaise Montgomery lives in the gritty outskirts of Washington, DC, where a stray bullet can steal a life on the way to school. Drugs and violence are the only ways to survive, so Blaise and her friends turn to gangs for safety, money, and love. When Blaise is invited to join Core 9, one of the most infamous crews, she jumps at the chance. Though her best guy friends, Rico and Satch, warn her about the danger, she agrees to be beaten for a minute straight as part of the gang's initiation ritual.

Now Blaise is finally part of a crew. A family. 

But things get only more dangerous when she becomes a member of Core 9 and tensions with a rival gang heat up. Trek, the head of Core 9, asks Blaise to be his "lure," the sexy bait he'll use to track down enemy gang members and exact revenge. Rico and Satch tell her it's a death sentence, but Blaise can't resist the money and unparalleled power. As Trek puts Blaise in increasingly dangerous situations, she begins to see that there's more to lose than she ever realized-including Satch, the one person who has the power to get under her skin. With death lurking around every corner, should Blaise continue to follow the only path she's ever known, or cut and run?

Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always - Elissa Janine Hoole

Cassandra fears rocking the family boat. Instead, she sinks it. Assigned by her English teacher to write a poem that reveals her true self, Cassandra Randall is stuck. Her family's religion is so overbearing, she can NEVER write about who she truly is. So Cass does what any self-respecting high school girl would do: she secretly begins writing a tarot-inspired advice blog. When Drew Godfrey, an awkward outcast with unwashed hair, writes to her, the situation spirals into what the school calls "a cyberbullying crisis" and what the church calls "sorcery." Cass wants to be the kind of person who sticks up for the persecuted, who protects the victims the way she tries to protect her brother from the homophobes in her church. But what if she's just another bully? What will it take for her to step up and tell the truth?

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

***Flawless: Chimamanda and Beyoncé

Late last year Beyonce surprised the universe by dropping her 5th album with no promotion. I was beyond thrilled when I heard about it and downloaded it from Itunes immediately. Every song on the album comes with it's own music video so I sat down and watched/listened to the whole thing in one go and it was glorious.

The best part of the whole experience is track number 11 called ***Flawless, and the best part of that song is that it samples a speech made by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Adichie is an amazing Nigerian author of several books inducing Purple Hibiscus and her latest novel Americanah.

Adichie's speech is from a TEDtalk she did in 2012 entitled We should all be feminists and it perfectly summarizes basically everything I believe about gender roles. Beyoncé must have loved this speech too (just another thing we have in common) because she has selected several of Adichie's ideas to make up the entire 2nd verse of the song and I love putting on Adichie's awesome Nigerian accent to sing along.

I think every single person in the world should listen to both the song and the speech. Even if you're not a feminist I think that the ideas that Adichie puts forward are highly intelligent and certainly worth putting some thought into.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Indian Ocean with Simon Reeve

In my new favourite documentary series Indian Ocean with Simon Reeve (and I don't say that lightly; you know how I feel about David Attenborough) Simon Reeve travels around some of the countries that boarder the Indian Ocean. Including but not limited to: South Africa, Madagascar, Seychelles, Somalia, Indonesia and Australia. This show is super interesting and Simon is a brilliant host so I highly recommend it. Plus there's a Turtle in pretty much every episode and Turtles are one of the cutest animals in the whole word and if you don't like them you have no soul.

The thing I absolutely love about this show is that it doesn't skip over the sad or slightly less pretty parts of these countries. Not only does it show you the beautiful beaches, amazing culture and totally rad turtles but it covers shark fining in Mozambique, the drug trade in South Africa and the pirates in Somalia among other harsh truths.

I have learned so much watching this show, it's a really awesome look into how the Indian Ocean effects the lives of so many different places, people and animals.

(Plus Simon Reeve is super handsome).

Monday, 3 February 2014


Today the news reported that Philip Seymour Hoffman had passed away. None of us knew him, but he was an actor that so many people have connected to - the responses to the news of his death on Facebook and Twitter show the impact he has had. He was such a talented man, always choosing such interesting roles from blockbuster flicks like The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (the sequels of which he was working on at the time of his death), to smaller scale films like the animated Mary and Max. His portrayal of Truman Capote in Capote, which was breathtaking and unnerving, won him the Academy Award for Best Actor. Whether he was playing a lead or supporting role he dominated the screen, being fully committed to every character.

He was a hugely talented man, not flashy, and dedicated to his family - for these reasons I will always respect him and celebrate his body of work. He leaves behind his partner Mimi O'Donnell, son Cooper (10), and daughters Tallulah (7) and Willa (5).

Below I have compiled a collection of his films that we have at the library. Do yourself a favour and watch them! Revisit old one, see new ones, and join me as we admire this talented man.

* photo courtesy of JB Hi-Fi
* photo courtesy of JB Hi-Fi
* photo courtesy of JB Hi-Fi
* photo courtesy of  Wikipedia
* photo courtesy of JB Hi-Fi
* photo courtesy of  Wikipedia
* photo courtesy of  Wikipedia
* photo courtesy of  Wikipedia
* photo courtesy of  Wikipedia
* photo courtesy of  Wikipedia