If you’re keen on writing a review of a recent book, but nothing you’re read in the last few weeks is inspiring you then check some of these out.
The Reformed Vampire Support Group, by Catherine Jinks (328 pages) – it’s hardly surprising; I mean, becoming undead and never aging would make you slightly nuts. Nina’s been fifteen for “a while” and finds life boring and unfun. Then one of the members of her therapy group is mysteriously staked and Nina and co have to find out who’s the culprit: their unlives are at stake (I’m sorry, that’s pretty bad). Vampire humour. Yesss.
First sentence(s): Nina was stuck. She didn’t know what to write next. So far, her teenaged captive had been dragged into a refrigerated meat locker by two thugs armed with a gun and a boning knife.
The Book of Tormod: A Templar’s Apprentice, by Kat Black (282 pages) – a historical fantasy about a boy with psychic abilities who is thrust into the thrilling, dangerous world of the Templars, hunted by King Philippe de Bel because of the secrets he is carrying.
First sentence: It was the first of May in the year of Our Lord 1307…
If I Grow Up, by Todd Strasser (220 pages) – cool cover. Another gritty novel about the reality of growing up in inner city America, where gangs loom, families struggle and teenagers are forced to make harsh choices.
First sentence: The divisions between black and white, and rich and poor, begin at birth and are reinforced every day of a child’s life.
End of the Alphabet, by Fleur Beale (255 pages) – by the author of Juno of Taris and I Am Not Esther. Ruby’s happy helping around the house, even if that means her brother gets off lightly. But when her friend Tia accuses her of being a doormat, Ruby wonders about standing up for herself, and when she does, what effect will this have?
First sentence: I stood back to let Tia go first into my bedroom.
Swimming Against the Tide, by Helen Bailey (309 pages) – the third book about Electra Brown (the others being Life at the Shallow End and Out of My Depth). Another confessional style series which, the author confesses, are based on real-life situations and the diary she used to write in school.
First sentence: I’m outside Burger King, leaning against the window, stressing over whether I can get away with having my belly button pierced without Mum finding out, but if I did, what are my chances of it going wrong and ending up with gross green puss pouring from my gut, which is what happened to Sorrel, though she went to a dodgy place with a parrot in the window which has now closed down, when over the noise of Eastwood Circle Retail Park I hear, ‘Hiya Electra!’
The Missing Book One: Found, by Margaret Peterson Haddix (293 pages) – Chip and Jonah don’t even realise they’re missing, the result of a 13 year old FBI cover up involving a plane load of 36 babies…
First sentence(s): It wasn’t there. Then it was.
Horror High: Toxic Beauty, by Caroline B. Cooney (182 pages) – vampires and schools again, but this one was first written way back in 1992. The Horror High series has been contributed to by R. L. Stine as well. In Toxic Beauty, Bethany longs to be beautiful, clever and popular, but at what price?
First sentence: ‘I don’t think I want to sleep in the tower after all,’ said Bethany to her parents.
When the Hipchicks Went to War, by Pamela Rushby (257 pages) – It’s the sixties; miniskirts, discos, the Beatles… the Vietnam War. Sixteen year old Kathy’s brother is fighting in the Vietnam War, but Kathy’s suburban life seems far removed from this, until she has the opportunity to “dance with an entertainment troop in Vietnam” (quoting the back cover). I suspect she’s going to learn some hard lessons about life and war.
First sentence: When I went to Vietnam, I packed a suitcase full of satin bikinis trimmed with fringes.
Return for the Gold, by Margaret Hall (189 pages) – set in South Westland (New Zealand). Mary lives in a remote community where hard work and lives are shared. This community has been disturbed by a ruthless robber who has stolen six months’ worth of mined gold, threatening to return for Mary…
First sentence: Even today, two years later, when my memory slides back to November 1888 and the coach journey from Christchurch to Hokitika, I feel a flicker of fear.
Blade: Running Scared, by Tim Bowler (162 pages) – the fourth book in the series about Blade, who’s having a hard time of it in Running Scared, where he’s badly injured, captured by people whose intentions are unclear, but could be the worst.
First sentence: The night, the motorbike, the twisting lane.
My (not so) Simple Life, by Joanna Nadin (258 pages) – again, a bare-all diary series, this time written by the alliterative Rachel Riley. She seems quite Bridget Jones-like in her writing style (see first sentence).
First sentence: Today is utterly the worst day of my life, and I should be jubilant because I have been waiting for tragedy to strike my boring existence for several years but, instead, am racked by torture and loss.