Alison – Staff Pickles


“She sounds like someone who spends a lot of time in libraries, which are the best sorts of people.” Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

I love:

  • A great deal of young adult fiction for the way it can straddle genres, push boundaries, and give a fresher take on the world than a lot of adult fiction
  • Anything involving awesome female friendships
  • Stories set during the world wars
  • In fact, anything set in a fascinating period of history
  • Retellings of myths, fairytales and legends
  • Road trips
  • Plagues! And other world-ending phenomena

Best quotes from books in 2017:

“When we say that “the world has ended,” remember – it is usually a lie. The planet is just fine.”

The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin

“And that's how you go on. You lay laughter over the dark parts. The more dark parts, the more you have to laugh. With defiance, with abandon, with hysteria, any way you can.”

Strange the Dreamer, by Laini Taylor


Recently Adored

Cover of 'A skinful of shadows' Cover of 'How not to be a boy' Cover of 'Night of Cake and Puppets' Cover of 'Before the devil breaks you'


  • Frances Hardinge's new book A Skinful of Shadows was THE GREATEST thing I read on my holidays. Set in the 1640s, Makepeace's mother stole her away from a dark fate when she was a baby, but has never told her what that dark fate was. A story full of ghosts, kindness and evil, independence and second chances.
  • How Not To Be A Boy by Robert Webb. One of my favourite comedians (one half of Mitchell and Webb) this is Robert Webb's memoir with a theme of gender roles - or as he puts is 'the oncoming tide of gender nonsense.'  Read an except from the Guardian or watch an interview with him (I love the interview especially)
  • Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor - this short novel is a side-step from the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy into the first date of Zuzana and Mik. A story of fluff and magic set in the street of Prague.
  • Libba Bray, dazzlingly clever Young Adult author has released the third book in her 1920s 'Diviners' series with ' Before the Devil Breaks You '. Like ghosts and asylums and a steadily growing evil? 

 High Hopes - New Releases:

  Cover of 'The Cruel Prince (folk of the air 1)  Cover of 'Genuine Fraud' Cover of 'When I am Through With You' Cover of 'It Devours'

I honestly CANNOT read through my 'for later' list fast enough, and I absolutely cannot keep up with all the new books I want to read. Here are some of my most anticipated new releases:

  • In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan. This woman knows how to rip our her fans hearts; cries of "SARAH NO" and "WHYYY" and "JUST LET THEM BE" are common with each new book she writes. She's clever and funny and feminist too - just be prepared for ANGST and DRAMA and KISSES!
  • In early 2018 we have a new Holly Black called 'The Cruel Prince', "delving deeper into the strange, glittering malicious courts of Faerie".
  • A sequel to 'Welcome to Night Vale' called 'It Devours!' - partially because Welcome to Night Vale is such a brilliant podcast, partially because of my love of excited punctuation in titles (!)
  • By turns funny and razor sharp feminist E Lockhart's Genuine Fraud
  • Stephanie Kuehn has another teen psychological thriller: 'When I Am Through With You'.
  • Maggie Stiefvater of Raven Boys fame's latest: 'All The Crooked Saints' about a family able to perform unusual miracles and three cousins who want to change the future.

 Coming Soon (but not soon enough)

  • Catherynne M Valente is working on a sequel to Deathless, a seamless combination of Russian mythology and communist history. It's due out in October 2018.

My lists

The Best of 2017 (updated December)
2017 was internationally pretty disasterous, but fictionally it was great. Full of emotional highs and lows and a whole lot of ghosts, these are some of my faves.

Cover of 'The Shadow Land' Cover of 'Tell the Truth Shame the Devil' by Melina Marchetta Cover of 'Still life with tornado' by A S King  Cover of 'We Are Okay'

Stars of the Auckland Writers Festival 2017
This booklist is my collection of the books and authors who really stood out at the Auckland Writers Festival this year - a mixture of fiction (long and super short), non fiction (moving memoirs, thrilling/harrowing historical mysteries, the science of everything) and poetry (just beautiful.)

Cover of '70% acrylic 30% wool' by Viola di GradoCover of 'Tomboy Survival Guide' Cover of 'The Greatest Story Ever Told... So Far' Cover of 'The Mothers'

Behaving Badly in the 1800s
Stories set in the 19th Century, a mixture of adult and young adult fiction, fantasy, and fabulous ladies.

Cover of Under A Painted Sky by Stacey Lee Cover of Nation by Terry Pratchett Cover of The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge Cover of The girl who circumnavigated fairyland in a ship of her own making  Cover of Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Creative Apocalypses
Stories about the end of the world, in one way or another. Thrillers and deep thoughts about human nature, stories about the best of people in the worst of times, mass extinction events, with a few fantasy and science fiction takes on the subject as well.

Cover of The Fifth Season by N K Jemisin Cover of Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel Cover of Love in the time of global warming Cover of The Gracekeepers Cover of On the edge of gone
Fiction and Fantasy in World War One and Two
Stories (and one sneaky memoir) set in and around the wars, and if they happen to incorporate a bit of fantasy too, well, even better.

Cover of Code Name Verity Cover of Deathless Cover of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Cover of Front Lines Cover of Between Shades of Grey
In the Olden Times When Wishes Still Helped
Fairy tales retold in various ways, from modern day settings to stories set back in the magical past.

Cover of Bone Gap Cover of The girls at the Kingfisher club  Cover of Spindles End Cover of The Wrath and the Dawn

Best books of the Year:
2017 (so far)

Other stuff

Like books, with TV and movies I like a mix of post-apocalyptic (zombie or otherwise), historical supernatural horror, speculative fiction, sci-fi: Jessica Jones, Mad Max: Fury RoadThe 100, Penny Dreadful, Orphan BlackElementary, Daredevil, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica... although I'm quite happy watching hours on end of The Great British Bake Off...

Cover of Sex Criminals by Matt FractionTop four fictional librarians

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