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Some Books to Read in the Holidays

17.12.09 | Comment?

summerreadingIf you’re looking for something to read over summer, here’s some interesting fiction that arrived in the library some time during 2009. Where the book is a sequel or part of a series we’ve also listed the other books (in order) so as not to ruin your reading experience. We’ve also included the blurb we wrote when the books came in, for your reference.

A Small Amount of Horror

Fen Runners, John Gordon – Tom Townsend lost the blade of his skate in an accident on the frozen fens years ago, and since then has been plagued by nightmares. His granddaughter, Jenny, is haunted too, and then her friend Kit pulls something out of the fen water.

The Enemy, Charlie Higson – The Enemy is the first book in a new trilogy with zombies – a whole lot of zombies. Reviews suggest this is rather scary, and overall really rather good. Plus it has black page edges. Website

The Devouring, Simon Holt – “Your body is here, but not your soul…” says the cover. Yoicks! The Vours are “evil, demonic beings that inhabit human bodies on Sorry Night, the darkest hours of the winter solstice.” (Book cover) Website

Zombie Blondes, Brian James – The girl on the cover has disturbingly large eyes (courtesy of artist Sas Christian). Blonde zombie cheerleaders are the most popular girls in the school that Hannah Sanders finds herself attending. It seems to be a cross between The Stepford Wives and Twilight (the concept of new girl in school coming across the undead, you understand). Worth a look.

Wake and Fade, Lisa McMann – (for Fade) The dream catchers Janie and Cabel must expose something horrid that’s going on at Fieldridge High. Website

The Parliament of Blood, Justin Richards – When an Egyptian mummy wakes up in the British Museum Eddie and George, Liz and Sir William (first seen in The Death Collector) are on hand to rescue the situation, which is a good thing, since they’re the only ones who know just how scary this particular mummy truly is.

The Kiss of Death, Marcus Sedgwick (companion to My Swordhand is Singing) – Set in eighteenth century Venice. Peter is still chasing the Shadow Queen, who is amassing an impressive undead army. In amongst this is Marko and Sorrel, both trying to uncover the mysteries surrounding their fathers.

Bit of a Laugh

I Love You, Beth Cooper, Larry Doyle – Denis Cooverman announces to everyone at his graduation that he loves Beth Cooper, the head cheerleader. Unfortunately her boyfriend, Kevin, is on leave from the United States Army and isn’t too happy. ‘Complications ensue’. Doyle is a former writer for The Simpson, and this book is extremely funny. They made it into a movie too.

The Reformed Vampire Support Group, Catherine Jinks – 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). [It's still bad.]

Spanking Shakespeare, Jake Wizner – Shakespeare Shapiro hopes that his writing project – a memoir – will bring him ‘respect, admiration, and a girlfriend … or at least a prom date.’ He hates his name, his family is eccentric, and he’s pretty socially inept.

Past Tense

What I Saw and How I Lied, Judy Blundell – Evie’s father returns from World War II and everything appears normal, however a web of deception surrounds him and handsome young Peter, one of Evie’s father’s company. Evie must get to the heart of things and ultimately choose between love and family loyalty.

Lost, Jacqueline Davies – Set in New York in the early 1900s.  The story of Essie, who lives in virtual poverty with her mother and siblings, is woven into a retelling of two historical events; the disappearance of a New York heiress and the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist fire. Nice cover.

The Bride’s Farewell, Meg Rosoff – Pell runs away on the morning of her wedding and hits the road to uncover the secrets of her past. From the author of How I Live Now.

Fantasy (may contain cool gadgetry)

The Looking Glass Wars, Seeing Redd, and Archenemy, Frank Beddor – (for Archenemy) the gripping conclusion to The Looking Glass Wars. Something strange is happening to Wonderland, and it’s not just Arch declaring himself king. Conundrums of evaporating puddles, shimmering portals, assassins, metamorphoses, action aplenty. The dude on the cover has got the coolest suit of armour and gun thingy ever. Website

Fever Crumb, Philip Reeve – A new book in the Infernal Engines world; huge, armoured fortresses that move across the wastelands. The book has a neat cover! Website

Leviathan, Scott Westerfeld – ‘In an alternate 1914 Europe, fifteen-year-old Austrian Prince Alek, on the run from the Clanker Powers who are attempting to take over the globe using mechanical machinery, forms an uneasy alliance with Deryn who, disguised as a boy to join the British Air Service, is learning to fly genetically-engineered beasts.’ The book has terrific illustrations throughout. [Another cool cover. Since here at teen blog we're all about the pictures.]

Flora Segunda and Flora’s Dare, Ysabeau S Wilce – (for Flora’s Dare) Apart from comments about the incredibly long and eccentric book titles (have a look at the catalogue link) we had this to say: Awarding-winning fantasy. And it has a giant squid.

A Small Amount of Fantasy with Romance

Fire, Kristin Cashore (companion to Graceling) – Fire is a human monster who is irresistible to humans (and other monsters) and is able to influence minds. Thought control: cool (in theory). This book is called a companion because it has one linking character – you get to find out what made Leck so Leck-ish. I may write a review of this book some time soon – it has some interesting positives and negatives. One positive is the creepy Prologue.

Hush, Hush, Becca Fitzpatrick – Nora Grey isn’t interested in romance until transfer student Patch appears. He’s dreamy [sexy, more like] and mysterious and he’s also an angel, I think? [Yes indeed] If you like Twilight you may appreciate this – reviewers have commented favourably on the character of Nora compared with Bella. Facebook

Wicked Lovely, Ink Exchange and Fragile Eternity, Melissa Marr – (for Fragile Eternity, me making this up just now) After a shift in focus in Ink Exchange, the story returns to Ash, Seth and Keenan, focussing most on Seth and his conundrum (one faced by many at the moment: how does one love an immortal?). Website

Princess Ben…, Catherine Gilbert Murdock – Again a long title! Princess Ben, held by the nasty Queen Sophia, learns the magical arts and saves the kingdom. Catherine Gilbert Murdock has previously written about the marvellous DJ Schwenk (Dairy Queen, The Off Season and now Front and Center), so this is a really different tack for her!

Lament, Maggie Stiefvater – Deirdre is not only a gifted musician, she’s also been lumped with the gift of seeing faeries, which means she becomes entangled in a faerie war that is as old as the hills.

Intrigue

The Nostradamus Prophecy, Teresa Breslin – Nostradamus has predicted a massacre, but King Charles doesn’t believe him; his mother, Catherine de’ Medici, does, however. So to does Melisande, the minstrel’s daughter, who ends up with some parchments written by Nostradamus that hold the secret of the French royal line. Adventure ensues!

The Robber Baron’s Daughter, Jamila Gavin – Philip Pullman describes this as a “rich and almost gothic drama” (Amazon.co.uk). The back cover tells me, “Nettie lives a privileged life… but everything changes when her beloved tutor, Miss Kovachev, vanishes.” The story travels between central London and (interestingly) Bulgaria.

Romantic (but not all just for girls)

Swim the Fly, Don Calame – you thought right: this is a novel where swimming is involved. It’s a humorous coming-of-age novel which wonders if it’s harder to swim the 100 metres butterfly or impress a really hot girl. Doing the one well might cause the other to happen, and hopefully it’s not a case of neither.

Along for the Ride, Sarah Dessen – From the library catalogue’s description: ‘When Auden impulsively goes to stay with her father, stepmother, and new baby sister the summer before she starts college, all the trauma of her parents’ divorce is revived, even as she is making new friends and having new experiences such as learning to ride a bike and dating.’

Cruel Summer, Alyson Noel – Colby Cavendish ditches her dorky image and her dorky best friend and dreams of a summer spent larking it up on the beach. But! Her parents send her to spend summer in Greece with her aunt. Which sounds great to me, but Colby isn’t having any of it. Until she meets Yanni, that is. Yannniiii.

Something, Maybe, Elizabeth Scott – Hannah’s parents are famous and notorious, and she’s managed to live life under the radar. But! Nothing is ever that simple, especially with crazy parents and falling in lurve.

Boy Minus Girl, Richard Uhlig – Les seems to be the harmless, shy, geek type in whose life girls just don’t feature (see title), but then Uncle Ray arrives, who is quite the opposite and therefore either potentially a really good role model or a really bad influence.

What They Always Tell Us, Martin Wilson – James and Alex are brothers, but they’re quite different. James has it all together and Alex is a bit of an outcast, but this year things will change: Alex starts cross country running which leads him along an unexpected path, and both brothers befriend Henry, a smart 10 year old neighbour. Critics call this book “beautifully realised”, which is rather a nice compliment for a writer.

Tough Love

Wintergirls, Laurie Halse Anderson – Lia’s best friend Cassie has died from anorexia, and now Lia faces the same fate. ‘One girl’s chilling descent into the all-consuming vortex of anorexia.’

Ostrich Boys, Keith Gray – Three boys take – well, steal, really – their late friend’s ashes after his depressing and dispiriting funeral, and travel 261 miles to a tiny hamlet in Scotland called Ross (which was also his first name).

Living Dead Girl, Elizabeth Scott – This rather grim tale is about Alice, who is abducted by someone when 10-years-old and held captive for years. Has an edge-of-your-seat ending.

Ghost Medicine, Andrew Smith – After the death of his mother, Troy just wants to spend the summer hanging out with his friends and being sort of invisible, but life gets in the way with complex, dangerous twists and turns. [I liked this book.]

Once Was Lost, Sara Zarr – “As the tragedy of a missing girl enfolds in her small town, fifteen-year-old Samara, who feels emotionally abandoned by her parents, begins to question her faith.” (Catalogue entry)

The World’s Turned to Custard

The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins – (for Catching Fire) Set in a post-apocalyptic future where a new, authoritarian government pits teens against one another on television. Now that the hunger games are over (or are they?) can Katniss survive the Capitol’s scrutiny? Website and Facebook

Bang, Bang, You’re Dead, Narinder Dhami – A gunman is rumoured to be somewhere in Mia’s school, and the place is being evacuated. Mia has a dreadful feeling that the gunman is her brother, Jamie, who has been acting very weird lately. Can she get to him in time? This book has a terrific twist at the end that’s right I read the end first

Brainjack, Brian Falkner – Sam Wilson, brilliant teenage computer hacker, has a go at the computer systems of the White House. This reckless obsession leads Sam into a dangerous world of ‘espionage and intrigue; of cybercrime and imminent war.’ Dangerous, sure, but pretty exciting you must admit.

Small-Minded Giants, Oisin McGann – Beyond the huge domed roof of Ash Harbour, deadly storms and Arctic temperatures have stripped the Earth bare. Sinister bodies reign supreme, and undercover operations are rife. When sixteen-year-old Sol Wheat’s father goes missing and is accused of murder, Sol sets out to find out why, and in doing so uncovers the harsh reality behind the city… (thanks Adrienne)

The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Ask and the Answer, Patrick Ness – Things aren’t going well for Todd; Viola is in the hands of Mayor Prentiss and he (Todd) has been imprisoned, then there’s the question of the Answer: who are they? Very cool cover. [Maybe cool cover = cool book? Although they do say you shouldn't think that.]


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