Archive for the ‘Good reads’ Category

Hello literature fiends! This week on the blog one of our Year 12 students, Jackie Li, kindly dropped by to review Laini Taylor’s Dreams of Gods and Monsters. Have you read this book? What did you think?


The final installation of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, I loved it! War! Fantasy! Angels! Demons! I fell in love with some characters and hated others with my gut. I laughed and cried (uh no, I didn’t actually – it was liquid pride). I wished I could traverse time and space, and visit the angel/chimaera world.

Dreams of Gods & Monsters is a journey of self-discovery and love, transcending good and evil, right and wrong, life and death. Throughout the epic journey, the reader will come to understand the effect of transitions in characters. Explore existentialism: does anything and everything matter?

The entire series is emotional. Ebullient one page, heart-rending the next. It made me gasp, laugh, frown, smile… It made me stop breathing, needing to relearn it. It made my heart race, halt and restart. I finished the series with a smile on my face, from ear to ear.

Published by Hodder & Stoughton, its ISBN is 1444722735. I’ll buy the whole series when I’m done with school, relive the journey, and conjure my own using inspiration from Taylor – such a great author, a great person, a great… ‘godstar’.


CBCA Book of the Year Award!

Posted: July 17, 2014 in Good reads

Hello book lovers and welcome back to the library blog. We have been a bit quiet this year due to technical issues but now we are back and ready to blog with renewed vigour and even more enthusiasm than usual, which is a lot!

Term 3 is an exciting term in the library as August brings us the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s CBCA Book Week, and we are busy planning exciting activities to celebrate our school’s love of books. One of our favourite parts of Book Week is the CBCA Book of the Year Awards. There are several categories including Picture Book, Early Childhood, and the Award for Information Books, but as a secondary school library our favourite category is the hotly-contested Book of the Year: Older Readers. This year there are six shortlisted books by Australian authors, which we will take a look at in this post. Which one do you think will win?

The Incredible Here and Now by Felicity Castagna

hereandnowMichael’s older brother dies at the beginning of the summer he turns 15, but as its title suggests The Incredible Here and Now is a tale of wonder, not of tragedy. Presented as a series of vignettes, in the tradition of Sandra Cisneros Young Adult classic The House on Mango Street, it tells of Michael’s coming of age in a year which brings him grief and romance; and of the place he lives in Western Sydney where those who don’t know any better drive through the neighbourhood and lock their car doors, and those who do, flourish in its mix of cultures. Through his perceptions, the reader becomes familiar with Michael’s community and its surroundings, the unsettled life of his family, the girl he meets at the local pool, the friends that gather in the McDonalds parking lot at night, the white Pontiac Trans Am that lights up his life like a magical talisman.


The First Third by Will Kostakis

firstthirdLife is made up of three parts: in The First Third, you’re embarrassed by your family; in the second, you make a family of your own; and in the end, you just embarrass the family you’ve made.That’s how Billy’s grandmother explains it, anyway. She’s given him her bucket list (cue embarrassment), and now, it’s his job to glue their family back together. No pressure or anything. Fixing his family’s not going to be easy and Billy’s not ready for change. But as he soon discovers, the first third has to end some time. And then what? It’s a Greek tragedy waiting to happen.




Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil

life-in-outer-spaceSam Kinnison is a geek, and he’s totally fine with that. He has his horror movies, his nerdy friends, World of Warcraft, and until Princess Leia turns up in his bedroom, worry about girls he won’t. Then Camilla Carter arrives on the scene. She’s beautiful, friendly and completely irrelevant to his plan – except that Camilla has a plan of her own.





Fairytales for Wilde Girls by Allyse Near

wildegirlsThere’s a dead girl in a birdcage in the woods. That’s not unusual. Isola Wilde sees a lot of things other people don’t. But when the girl appears at Isola’s window, her every word a threat, Isola needs help.Her real-life friends – Grape, James and new boy Edgar – make her forget for a while. And her brother-princes – magical creatures seemingly lifted from the pages of the French fairytales Isola idolises – will protect her with all the fierce love they possess. It may not be enough. Isola needs to uncover the truth behind the dead girl’s demise . . . before the ghost steals Isola’s last breath.




The Sky so Heavy by Claire Zorn

TheSkySoHeavyFor Fin, it’s just another day – racing for the school bus, bluffing his way through class and trying to remain cool in front of the most sophisticated girl in his universe. Only it’s not like any other day because, on the other side fo the world, nuclear missiles are being detonated.






Wildlife by Fiona Wood

wildlife Boarding for a term in the wilderness, sixteen-year-old Sibylla expects the gruesome outdoor education program – but friendship complications, and love that goes wrong? They’re extra-curricular. Enter Lou from Six Impossible Things – the reluctant new girl for this term in the great outdoors. Fragile behind an implacable mask, she is grieving a death that occurred almost a year ago. Despite herself, Lou becomes intrigued by the unfolding drama between her housemates Sibylla and Holly, and has to decide whether to end her self-imposed detachment and join the fray. And as Sibylla confronts a tangle of betrayal, she needs to renegotiate everything she thought she knew about surviving in the wild.


(Book summaries from

Loved the Cherub series? Try these!

Posted: February 24, 2014 in Good reads

Robert Muchamore’s Cherub series is definitely one of the most popular in our library for lovers of junior spy adventure thrillers. Luckily there are approximately 700 books in the series so if you have recently discovered a love for Muchamore’s writing you have plenty of books to look forward to. But what about those of you who have read all of them twice through? What then? Never fear: we have compiled a list of books for Muchamore fans that will let you gently expand your reading horizons while still getting the adventure/thriller buzz that you crave.

Ten Days to Zero by Bernard Ashley

Ten Days To Zero“When journalist Ben Maddox is thrust full-throttle into an investigation for Zephon TV, he worries that he’s in over his head. But as he digs deeper, he realises that what’s really important is being prepared to fight for what you believe in, and if that means risking his life, then that’s exactly what he will have to do…”



Boy Soldier Series by Andy McNab & Robert Rigby


Danny Watts’ grandfather, Fergus, was a Deniable Operator in the SAS before he was betrayed, imprisoned, and falsely denounced as a traitor. Now Fergus has escaped, but the real traitor is determined to silence Fergus and Danny for good. Together Danny and Fergus are forced to go on the run in an against-the-odds battle for survival. As they try to clear Fergus’ name, Danny learns all the military field craft, trade skills, and covert operations techniques that are second nature to his grandfather. When Fergus is recaptured, Danny must put those skills to the test and rescue Fergus before it’s too late.

The books in the series are: Boy Soldier, Payback, Adventure, and Meltdown..

Spy Girl Series by Carol Hedges


Alex Rider meets Nancy Drew in a futuristic spy thriller full of adventure and suspense. Jazmin Dawson’s alter ego, Jaz, is a gorgeous super-spy, and she doesn’t have a serious snack habit, unlike Jazmin herself. In real life, the closest Jazmin gets to dangerous missions is waving goodbye to her mum, who works for secret intelligence.



Jimmy Coates series by Joe Craig


Who or what is Jimmy Coates? Eleven-year-old Jimmy is on the run. The good news is that he has some sweet new abilities that let him outrun, outjump, and outkick anybody even adults. The bad news is that the mysterious organization that kidnapped Jimmy’s parents is after him and he has no idea why. Except that it might have something to do with his new fighting capabilities. And the fact that he might not be entirely human. . .



Young Bond series by Charlie Higson

images (1)“Before the name became a legend. Before the boy became a man.” Young Bond is a series of five young adult spy novels by Charlie Higson featuring Ian Fleming’s secret agent James Bond as a young teenage boy attending school at the very fancy Eton College in the 1930s. The books in the series are Silver Fin, Blood Fever, Double or Die, Hurricane Gold, and By Royal Command.



The Shapeshifter series by Ali Sparkes

Dax Jones turns into a fox, and is taken away by the government to a remote college where other children his age have also suddenly developed paranormal powers. He soon makes new friends – cheeky Gideon, who can move things with his mind, gentle Mia, who can heal people and spoilt little madam Lisa, who is sick and tired of getting messages from the dead. As the Children Of Limitless Ability begin to develop their powers, Dax wonders what whether the college is there to protect them, or to control them…

The five books in this series are: Finding the Fox, Running the Risk, Going to Ground, Dowsing the Dead, and Stirring the Storm.

New Releases in 2014

Posted: February 10, 2014 in Good reads

Salut, bibliophiles! This week’s blog post is brought to you by the letter E for EXTREME EXCITEMENT as we look into our crystal ball at some of the young adult titles that are set to be released this year. We don’t have these books in the library yet but you better believe that we will be sprinting to the bookshop to buy them as soon as they are released!

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

The sixth and final installment in the Mortal Instruments series will soon be upon us and it is fair to say that there is a lot of anticipation in the air. Who will survive? We will have to wait until June to find out!


Panic by Lauren Oliver

The ever-popular author of DeliriumBefore I Fall and a bunch of other books which are all kind of intense, Lauren Oliver has written a new book all about “a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher”. It’s coming out next month!


Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

Fans of Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy will be very pleased to hear that the third and final book is soon to be arriving on our shelves. What will Karou and Akiva get up to next? All will be revealed when Dreams of Gods and Monsters comes out in April.



Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

From the author of the Raven Boys books and The Scorpio Races comes this new young adult novel which is meant to be a ‘companion novel’ to the extremely popular Shiver trilogy which follows the story of secondary characters Cole and Isobel. It’s due to be released in July.



Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

If you loved the 1920s party girl good times of The Diviners as much as we did, then you will be very happy to hear that after wrestling with a nasty bout of writer’s block, Libba Bray has come out on top and produced a sequel which will be out in August. We can’t wait!

Hello book lovers, and welcome to the UHS library in 2014! We are looking forward to another fantastic year in the library with lots of new books and an exciting calendar of library events due to take place over the coming four terms.

To get the year started on the blog, here are a few of the new books that have arrived in the library office this week and are about to make their way onto our shelves!

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

The arrival of Allegiant, the final installation in Roth’s Divergent trilogy, is sure to create excitement for fans of this dystopian series. The book was released in October last year and follows the ongoing adventures of Tris Prior as she deals with a pretty epic raft of problems, both personal and political. Let’s see what Goodreads has to say:

“The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories. ”

OR PERHAPS NOT. Read the book to find out!

She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick

We are pretty keen to read this unusual-sounding book which is kind of a thriller but also kind of about the power of coincidence. According to the blurb: “Laureth Peak’s father is a writer. For years he’s been trying, and failing, to write a novel about coincidence. His wife thinks he’s obsessed, Laureth thinks he’s on the verge of a breakdown. He’s supposed to be doing research in Austria, so when his notebook shows up in New York, Laureth knows something is wrong. On impulse she steals her mother’s credit card and heads for the States, taking her strange little brother Benjamin with her. Reunited with the notebook, they begin to follow clues inside, trying to find their wayward father. Ahead lie challenges and threats, all of which are that much tougher for Laureth than they would be for any other 16-year old. Because Laureth Peak is blind.”

It’s nice, and sadly still pretty rare, to see an interesting YA book where the main character has a disability, and especially great that Sedgwick has written a character who is not helpless and is not defined but her disability, but is a smart, tough hero.

The League of Sharks by David Logan

All you really need to know about this book is that it is basically about TIME-TRAVELLING SHARK MEN. If that didn’t send you running to the fiction shelves then I don’t know what to say to you. Recommended for lovers of adventure books and fans of the Percy Jackson stories, this is the first book in a forthcoming series. Here’s what Amazon says:

“In a world where humans have disappeared, sharkmen are the ultimate predators.

Junk’s sister has been stolen.

Snatched from her bed in the dead of night, Ambeline doesn’t stand a chance. No one believes Junk saw a monster take his sister. No one believes he’s not to blame.

So begins Junk’s quest to find Ambeline’s kidnapper. His journey will take him to a future world where animal species have evolved, and where the cult of the League of Sharks – the cult that stole Junk’s sister – is etched into folklore…”

When Mr Dog Bites by Brian Conaghan

We can’t wait to read this book: it sounds amazing, kind of like if the movie The Bucket List was about a teenager with Tourette’s syndrome instead of being about two old guys! Here is the blurb from the Bloomsbury website:

“Dylan Mint has Tourette’s. His life is a constant battle to keep the bad stuff in – the swearing, the tics, the howling dog that seems to escape whenever he gets stressed. But a routine visit to the hospital changes everything. Overhearing a hushed conversation between the doctor and his mum, Dylan discovers that he’s going to die in March. So he makes a list of things he must do before he dies: first, he wants to have real sex with gorgeous Michelle Malloy; second, he’s got to find his autistic best friend Amir a new best bud; third, he’s got to get his dad back home from the army so they can say goodbye properly. It’s not a long list, but it’s ambitious, and he doesn’t have much time. Sometimes you’ve just got to go for it – no holding back – and see what happens. “

New Books in the Library

Posted: July 29, 2013 in Good reads

This week we take a quick look at just a few of the great new books on the library shelves!  Remember that we are always buying new fiction for your reading pleasure so come and check out our displays.  Also, if there is a book you think we should have but don’t, let us know by using the Suggest A Book feature at the top of the page, and we will do our very best to acquire it for you!

Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead

gameboardThe author of the phenomenally successful Vampire Academy and Bloodlines books is back with the first installment of a new series!  Here is what Goodreads has to say about the story:

“In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills.

When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.”


Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen

hiaassenWe haven’t read this murder mystery yet but it looks pretty great.  Any book that features a protagonist with a human arm in his freezer is okay by us!  Hiaasen is a prolific crime writer whose books are known for their oddball casts of characters and their balmy South Florida setting.  Let’s read the blurb!

“Andrew Yancy–late of the Miami Police, soon-to-be-late of the Key West Police–has a human arm in his freezer. There’s a logical (Hiaasenian) explanation for that, but not for how and why it parted from its owner. Yancy thinks the boating-accident/shark-luncheon explanation is full of holes, and if he can prove murder, his commander might relieve him of Health Inspector duties, aka Roach Patrol. But first Yancy will negotiate an ever-surprising course of events–from the Keys to Miami to a Bahamian out island–with a crew of equally ever-surprising characters, including: the twitchy widow of the frozen arm; an avariciously idiotic real estate developer; a voodoo witch whose lovers are blinded-unto-death by her particularly peculiar charms; Yancy’s new love, a kinky medical examiner; and the eponymous Bad Monkey, who earns his place among Hiaasen’s greatest characters with hilariously wicked aplomb.”


The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr

zarrSara Zarr, author of popular YA books How To Save a Life and Once Was Lost, is back with a new one, this time about a jaded sixteen-year-old former concert pianist who is struggling to reclaim her sense of self.  We happen to have a bit of a soft spot for books about musicians (we loved cellist Mia and rock star Adam in If I Stay & Where She Went as well as quirky clarinet player Lennie in The Sky Is Everywhere) so we are pretty keen on this one.

Here’s what the publisher has to say:

“Lucy Beck-Moreau once had a promising future as a concert pianist. The right people knew her name, her performances were booked months in advance, and her future seemed certain.

That was all before she turned fourteen.

Now, at sixteen, it’s over. A death, and a betrayal, led her to walk away. That leaves her talented ten-year-old brother, Gus, to shoulder the full weight of the Beck-Moreau family expectations. Then Gus gets a new piano teacher who is young, kind, and interested in helping Lucy rekindle her love of piano — on her own terms. But when you’re used to performing for sold-out audiences and world-famous critics, can you ever learn to play just for yourself?”



Inky Awards Update

Posted: June 14, 2013 in Events, Good reads

Gold_longlistedBreaking news from the world of young adult books, everybody!  The Centre for Youth Literature at the State Library recently released the long list for this year’s Inky Awards!  We love the Inkys (Inkies?) because not only are they a special award just for YA literature, but they also have a special focus on Australian writers.  Also, and most importantly, the Inky Awards are totally decided by young people: the long list is selected by readers of the Inside a Dog blog, and then they get a panel of teen judges to read all of the long-listed books and select a winner.  (More super exciting news on this coming up below!)

There are two categories in the Inky Awards: the Gold Inky, which is awarded to an Australian book, and the Silver Inky, which goes to an international book.  Last year’s Gold Inky went to Em Bailey’s spooky novel Shift while the Silver Inky went to The Fault In Our Stars by John Green.  All of the books long listed for this year’s Inky Awards can be found in your very own school library!

Meanwhile, we are even more excited than usual about this year’s Inky Awards, because for the first time in ages we have one of our very own Uni High students on the teen judging panel!  Harison Butler of Year 7 successfully applied to be an Inkys judge and will be reading every single one of the longlisted books and deciding the winner of this year’s awards.  We are incredibly proud to know a teen Inky judge!  Harison, who is a voracious reader as well as a writer, very kindly agreed to share his Inky judging panel application with us and it makes for great reading.  He’s not allowed to discuss the novels he is judging yet but we are hoping to hear all about the judging experience once he has finished the process.  Here’s Harison’s successful application which won him a spot on the panel:

Hi, my name is Harison Butler, and I go to University High School in Melbourne, Victoria. I am 12 years of age and I would like to be an Inky Judge for multiple reasons- 
I absolutely love reading. It is my overall favourite thing to do. In my normal day- I would read the cereal box while eating, read signs on the way to school, read during recess and lunch, and I come home and read till dinnertime. So, I’m fascinated by words. I love how I lose myself in the ever-expanding ocean of words and how my imagination runs wild, for example, one sentence about a talking dog, and I can already imagine the colour, type of dog, its size and how it would speak. I am currently writing a book, called The Lord of the Rings Reborn, in which the characters from Middle Earth go through a strange portal, ending up in Melbourne! I like to play around with words, changing how they sound, taking bits from two words and meshing them together into one. I mainly read fictitious books, but I have read some books about Leonardo Da Vinci’s inventions, because I plan to make some of my own inventions. But back to the point: I would like to be a Judge because since I am writing a book, I believe that this experience will improve my vocabulary and my imagination will expand. 
My favourite author is J.R.R. Tolkien, because I love how he describes the appearances and qualities of the characters and how he made his very own languages. I have read many of his works, including The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, The Children of Hurin, and Roverandom. Oh, and how many books can I read in a month-probably nine to ten books, which fits the time frame perfectly. 
I hope you like my application, so thank you!”

And here are all the books in contention for this year’s Inky Awards!  How many have you read?  We have all of these books on display at the library: come down and see what you think!