Annihilation

I’ve done it again. I’ve stumbled on to a book with a premise that really intrigues me and then leaves me floundering with more questions than answers. This drives me crazy. Other people love this book. I love answers. Fully committed though, I launched myself upon the movie when it turned up on Netflix.

More confusion as the writers took another turn with the story. My frustration now consumes me, but at least there was some resolution in the movie. But what is this story that managed to evoke such a range of emotions? Read on…

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Annihilation is the first book in Jeff VanderMeer’s  Southern Reach trilogy. Southern Reach has control of Area X. This is an area of land that has apparently inexplicable changes happening to the environment, people and animals that live or have lived within it. Southern Reach has been sending teams into Area X for 30 years and up to this point, there has been a very high failure rate. One by one the teams either go crazy, kill themselves or return a shell of their former selves. Nothing stays untouched by the environment inside Area X. I say ‘inside’ but in reality there is no visible barrier that separates the real world and the one that is evolving inside Area X.

Southern Reach have decided that for their 12th mission it is time to send forth an all-female team consisting of an anthropologist, a psychologist, a surveyor and a biologist. They remain nameless for the duration and the chasm that exists between each of them is palpable and one wonders if it is deliberate. The very experiences that should bring them together are ripping them further apart due to an underlying distrust. Encounters with the inexplicable and alien continues the downward spiral as they search for answers.

Then my mind wanders and I can’t help but wonder, “Only 12 expeditions in 30 years?” That doesn’t sound quite right to me. History dictates that in our desperate need to find reason where there is none, we would have bombarded the area with specialists and most of all, military. Certainly not fluffed around so that there was more than 2 years between missions while Area X steadily grows larger! And the questions continue.

Hopefully you do better than me in your search for answers. Maybe you don’t need any and are happy to just immerse yourself in the possibilities alone. More than likely I gave up far too easily and just need to get stuck into VanderMeer’s next two books in the Southern Reach series, Authority and Acceptance and keep searching for those elusive answers.

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Alternatively try something completely different, if you gave up like I did:

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What’s a young person to do this summer?!

The summer holidays are upon us at last and there’s now lots of daytime hours to pursue your extracurricular interests and one of those interests is sure to be reading, but just WHAT do you read..?!?

I have compiled a reading list just for you so you don’t have to waste your precious summer moments searching for your new favourite book.

There’s everything in here, from steampunk adventure to wilderness survival, sci-fi alien battles to swords and sorcery, everyone will find something to rock their world this summer. There’s not a lot of romance in here, it’s all action, adventure, and fantastic tales – just the ticket for the long hot season!

So get looking through the list, place holds, search your local library, and talk to your local librarians…

Teenage Kicks

List created by DevilStateDan

A list of action-packed, non-sentimental, teenage reads!

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The Obsidian Blade
The first book of a trilogy that hurtles through dimensions as the young protagonist seeks answers and the truth behind what has happened to his family. Fast paced, full of action, and confronts the ideas of organised religion – great read!

Stormbreaker
High octane adventure as a young man gets recruited into the secret service – action packed!

Mortal Engines
Cities on wheels scouring the globe eating each other..?? A brilliant future-fantasy/steampunk adventure, and the first of four books. Hugely inventive and creative in it’s world building, and non-stop action!

Nation
A desert island survival adventure with a fantasy twist, and it’s Terry Pratchett so you just know it’s going to be full of heart and humour.

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Starship Troopers
If you like science fiction then this is the one for you! A huge story of alien battles, military camaraderie, and a high level of irony make this space adventure story a huge winner! Once you’ve read this book then watch the 1997 movie of the same name – you’ll never look at humanity in the same way again!!

Hatchet
Another wilderness survival story, this time in the wilds of Alaska and a young man alone. A great coming of age story – he goes into the wild a boy and becomes a man, but does he survive…??

The Outsiders
Gang life in the 1980s is where this story is at, with all the highs and lows of growing up in a poor and struggling family, trying to find your way in the world. This is a modern classic and a must read for all teens!

The Book Thief
As my colleague AliReads describes this book; “The Book Thief, Leisel, embodies the idea that humans need stories to continue being human. Like a lot of these other books, it’s a holding-on-to-your-humanity story, because war will strip you down.”

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Gone
What would you do if everyone fifteen or older was suddenly gone? No explosion, no green alien smoke, just … disappeared.

A Wizard of Earthsea
Wizards. Dragons. Good vs Evil. Oustanding and classic fantasy storytelling complete with the reluctant hero and a great quest. This has also been made into a movie by the legendary Japanese filmmaker Goro Miyazaki (Studio Ghibli)

Ashfall
A natural disaster survival story about a young man trying to reconnect with his family after a devastating volcanic eruption negotiating dangerous terrain and perilous people.

Neverwhere
Modern fantasy by the best in the business right now – Neil Gaiman.

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The Knife of Never Letting Go
I’ll let my colleague stewaroby describe this one; “Where have all the women gone? 13-year-old Todd Hewitt must solve this mystery and escape a strange, all male society on a strange,, harsh planet. He will need to find a new way to be a man”…sounds beaut!

Eragon
A young farmer finds a dragon egg and is propelled headlong into the action and intrigue of a swords and sorcery fantasy story – dragons are cool, this story is cool.

Cycle of the Werewolf
Werewolves are terrorising a small town in this horro story from the godfather of horror; Stephen King – a great place to start for a young horror enthusiast!

The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
The one that started it all! Follow Arthur, Ford, Trillian and friends as they travel through the universe together, guided along the way by the best known travel book ever – and don’t forget your towel!

The Maze Runner
Think of an escape room… now make it as big as a city and extremely dangerous! That’s where a young man wakes up suddenly one day, finding himself in the company of strangers who together have to figure their way out of their deadly predicament!

The Lord of the Rings
The classic fantasy trilogy – it’s got everything, awesome world building, swords and sorcery, a quest of great significance… if you haven’t read this yet then do so now!

Ender’s Game
With humanity under threat from an alien race, six-year-old Ender Wiggin leaves his family on Earth to journey to the Belt. There he enters Battle School and is strictly disciplined in mind games and mock battles. In instinct, compassion and genius he is unequalled, for his is a unique destiny.

But hey! maybe Graphic Novels are your thing…?!? No worries, we have you covered and Ma1co1m’s reading list is full of the best of the best graphic novels for 2017.

But wait….there’s more!!

With reading comes your chance to WIN!

That’s right, all you have to do to be in the running to win a Westfield voucher, an MTA voucher, or book or movie vouchers is either visit one of our libraries or our website, complete the challenge sheet and hand it in and you’re chance to win! You can find out more by visiting our website (where you can also download a copy of the challenge sheet!)

And remember; if you can’t find the information you need, come and talk to one of our librarians and they’ll set you up with a beaut new read.

Happy Summer to you 🙂

Rude Monsters, Hungry Cakes and Dinosaur Scientists

Some of my favourite books are full of adventure but also make me laugh. They can take you to space, the high seas or travel back in time, but they also feature silly monsters, hungry cakes and dinosaur scientists.

If these sound like books that you would like to read we have a great booklist just for you – If you like…funny adventure stories for kids. A couple of my favourite books from this list are Cakes in Space by Philip Reeve and The Deadly Seven by Garth Jennings.

Cakes in Space is the story of Astra, a girl who is getting ready to travel to a new planet with her family. They have to travel for many years to get to this planet, so they have to be cryogenically frozen and sleep the whole time. Just before she is ready to get put to sleep Astra decides she is hungry and goes to find the giant machine on the ship that makes food.  This machine can make any food you wish and Astra asks for cake. She presses the buttons but nothing happens and no food appears. She rushes back to her sleeping pod with an empty stomach and gets put to sleep. She wakes up many years later but she is the only one on the ship who is awake. Something has gone wrong and Astra is not the only thing wandering the corridors of her ship. Giant, mutant cakes, with huge teeth are all over the ship and they are hungry!  It’s up to Astra to save her ship and her family. You’ll never look at cakes the same way again.  It’s a really funny and action-packed read, with aliens that you’ve never heard of before.

The Deadly Seven is about Nelson, who is just an ordinary boy until the day he falls onto a mysterious machine that has been hidden away in a church for many years. Little does he know that this machine has extracted the seven deadly sins from him. Now he’s being followed around by seven noisy, smelly, rude monsters. When Nelson’s sister is kidnapped on a school trip it’s up to Nelson and his monster friends to find her and bring her home. The Deadly Seven is a laugh-out-loud read, with a bunch of funny monsters that you’ll love.

If you like the sound of these great books you can get them from the Library, or reserve them for free if they are out. Check out our If you like…funny adventure stories booklist for more stories like these, or look at our other kids booklists to find your next read.

Be your own librarian: a help-yourself guide

CoverLibrarians have a term for helping people find something good to read – “reader’s advisory”. We also have a bunch of fantastic resources we use to find things. Now we’re going to share these not-so-secret tools of the trade with you. So if you’re the kind of person who likes to be left to your own devices when you use the library, then check out this treasure trove of great places to go for book suggestions:

Victoria’s Challenge: Wilbur Smith

coverI’ve decided to “throw my fishing net over the huge amount of a variety of New Titles we are receiving daily.” Next cab off the rank was Wilbur Smith’s  The Seventh Scroll.

I  really fell in love with Historical Fiction/Adventure/Mystery all over again! (The last time I read this kind of literature was my intermediate school days). Now I find it’s hard to stop myself from reading it, whenever I have a spare minute or two. Very dynamic, exuberant and full of real adventure flavour, plus gives you the real taste of cultural reality of Egypt and Africa, honestly, one of the best adventure authors I’ve read.

Move over Zac Power, here comes Space Scout and Battle Boy

Battle BoyIf your children are obsessed with the Zac Power books you need to read this!  There are two new series that have just started  that are perfect for those children (particularly boys) who love Zac Power and we’ve just got the first few books in the series.

Battle Boy is a new series of books, written by Charlie Carter, about BB005 (whose real name is Napoleon) who gets sent back in time to spy on some of the greatest battles in history.  Equipped with some cool gadgets and top-secret information, Napoleon must go back in time and set the record straight.  If your children like spy stories, history stories or adventure stories these books are for them.

Space Scout is another new series that’s written by the author behind Zac Power, H. Badger (or H.I. Larry as we know her).  The books are about Kip Kirby and his co-pilot, Finbar, who are scouting the universe for a new Earth that they can call home.  Like the Zac Power books, there are lots of cool diagrams and gadgets throughout the book.  Kip and Finbar journey to weird planets and meet all sorts of weird alien creatures.   There’s also a really cool Space Scout website to check out so you can find out some more information about the books and play games.

You can borrow the first few books in both series from your local library now.  I’m sure your children will love you for it!

Is your teacher an alien?

Do your teachers speak in a really weird language when they think you’re not looking? Do they wear a brass wrist band that they use to communicate with someone in another galaxy? Do their eyes flash blue when you annoy them?  If you answered yes to all of these questions it is very likely that your teachers are aliens from another planet and you should get as far away from them as possible.

In Mark Haddon’s new book, Boom!, Jim and Charlie do exactly the opposite when they discover something weird is going on.  When Jim overhears a conversation between his teachers, he believes that they are trying to get him sent to a new school and so with the help of his best friend Charlie, they bug the staff room.  However, what they actually hear is two of their teachers speaking in a strange language and so they set out to find some answers to these strange goings-on.  This story has everything – action, adventure, aliens, mysterious men in gray suits, cool alien technology, a strange language and lots of laughs.

You may know of Mark Haddon as the author of the hugely popular Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.  Boom! is a completely different sort of story for a different age group but it’s an out-of-this-world read.

Thrillin’ While We’re Chillin’

Dismal winter weather getting you down? Yes?……….

In lieu of a foreign holiday in exotic climes, I’m pinning my escapist hopes on re-reading some high-octane, pacey thrillers from yesteryear. Central library is packing a bulging display of goodies from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s including some thriller writing greats: Alistair MacLean, Desmond Bagley, Hammond Innes, Ian Fleming, Gavin Black etc.

So if you see yourself as the resourceful man/woman-alone hero type pitting  your wits against foreign agents and megalomaniacs seeking total world domination, fancy the odd saucy encounter with beautiful, mysterious women/men, want to drive fast cars and visit glamorous locations, head into Popular for your thriller fix. Or failing that you could book a holiday somewhere nice instead, I hear Monte is to die for at this time of year dahling!