Here are this week’s new books. Further to the First Sentence idea we have added an arbitrary rating of hooks (based on how well the first sentence hooks you in (you see)). The hook looks like this – . So there’s one for a pretty meh first line, and for the sentence that makes you want to keep reading.
Fire on High, by David Hill (127 pages) – Jonno wins a trip to South America to watch a solar eclipse. While there he becomes alarmed at the increasing civil unrest, and is keen to return home. His return flight, however, is hijacked …
First line: ‘At exactly 10.43 a.m., the sun started to turn black.’
Deathwatch, by Nicola Morgan (279 pages) – Cat McPherson’s revealed a little too much information about herself online, and now someone’s watching her. Does she realise she’s being stalked? A psychological thriller!
First line: ‘In the hooded darkness, he watches from a high window.’
Flygirl, by Sherri L. Smith (275 pages) – 1940s Louisiana, and Ida Mae Jones wants to fly. She’s black, so it’s going to be tough. The opportunity to fly presents itself, but she has to pass herself off as a white girl to join the Women Airforce Service Pilots – and she soon realises that it’s difficult to escape who she really is.
First line: ‘It’s Sunday afternoon, and the phonograph player is jumping like a clown in a parade the way Jolene and I are dancing.‘
Secret Keeper, by Mitali Perkins (225 pages) – In 1974 when her father leaves New Delhi, India, to seek a job in New York, Asha, a tomboy at the advanced age of sixteen, feels thwarted in the home of her extended family in Calcutta where she, her mother, and sister must stay, and when her father dies before he can send for them, they must remain with their relatives and observe the old-fashioned traditions that Asha hates. [Catalogue description]
First line: ‘Asha and Reet held their father’s hands through the open window.‘
L. A. Candy : A Novel, by Lauren Conrad (326 pages) – This book is a semi-autobiographical account of a girl whose internship in L. A. leads to a role in a major reality show. Fame and fortune follow! And perhaps some soul-searching. The book’s author was in The Hills.
First line: ‘Jane Roberts leaned against her dresser, studying the way her white silk nightie looked against her sun-kissed skin.‘
Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater (392 pages) – A supernatural romance with (I think) a werewolf. A possible Twilight substitute, Grimm reckons. A sequel, Linger, is due out in 2010. Also, the entire book is printed in blue ink.
First line: ‘I remember lying in the snow, a small red spot of warm going cold, surrounded by wolves.‘
Andromeda Klein : A Novel, by Frank Portman (424 pages) – High school sophomore Andromeda, an outcast because she studies the occult and has a hearing impairment and other disabilities, overcomes grief over terrible losses by enlisting others’ help in her plan to save library books–and finds a kindred spirit along the way. [Library catalogue]. Saving library books is something we can all get behind, I say.
First line: ‘The Universe is huge.‘
Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins (391 pages) - This is the second book of The Hunger Games trilogy. It’s incredibly popular, so you’d better reserve it now if you haven’t. It‘s set in a post-apocalyptic future where a new, authoritarian government pits teens against one another on television. The third book is due out next year, and a film is in the works.
First line: ‘I clasp the flask between my hands even though the warmth from the tea has long since leached into the frozen air.‘
Watch The Skies : Daniel X, by James Patterson and Ned Rust (251 pages) – Daniel’s parents were killed by an alien, and he now hunts alien monsters using his uber-powers, which include super-speed and the ability to create anything out of nothing (handy in a pinch).
First line: ‘It was a pretty regular early-summer night at 72 Little Lane.‘
Dull Boy, by Sarah Cross (308 pages) – Avery has superpowers, but in an attempt to remain anonymous he’ll pretend to be as dull and normal as possible. Of course, every superhero has a villain to deal with …
First line: ‘It’s Friday – another afternoon spent pounding the pavement in search of crimes to stop and people to help.‘
Blue Moon, by Alyson Noel (289 pages) – This is the second book in the Immortals series (the first one was Evermore). Ever travels to another dimension in an effort to save Damen; she soon must choose between his life, and going back into the past and saving her parents’ lives. Quite a toss-up.
First lines: ‘“Close your eyes and picture it. Can you see it?”
A Student Writing Guide : How to Plan and Write Successful Essays, by Gordon Taylor (266 pages) - This book would be ideal for anyone at any level who wishes to write a cracking good essay. I recommend it!
If you’re 13 to 19 and a bit of a writer, we have the perfect competition for you : “Re-Draft” – which is run by the Christchurch School for Young Writers. The best entries each year are published in the school’s annual publication ‘Re-Draft’, and your work might be chosen as the title of the book. That’s right your words, in bright bold colours on the front of the book…
This competition is open to all, and you can enter up to three pieces of work on any subject matter, poems or stories. Jump onto their website for info on the competition and details on how to enter.
Markus Zusak, who wrote The Book Thief (one of our Most Wanted books for, like, ages), was recently at the Hay Festival in the United Kingdom (which seems to be a celebration of books and chairs, from what I can tell), where he was interviewed while relaxing in a comfortable-looking deck chair. He talks about how he works, what inspired him to write The Book Thief, what it means to have death as a narrator, and a few other bits and pieces. The interview is here (from the Guardian website).
Incidentally, if you’re interested in strange narrators and you liked How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff make sure you read Just In Case, which is narrated by fate – it would make a very interesting point of comparison.
If you’re into creative writing you might be interested in this:
There are two special school holiday creative writing workshops happening next Wednesday 22 April at Katherine Mansfield Birthplace (25 Tinakori Road, Thorndon).
Run by award-winning author Janice Marriott, the workshops are a great chance for secondary school students aged 13–15 to develop their skills and ideas in creative writing.
Workshop 1: 9.30–12.30am
Workshop 2 (repeat): 1.30–4.30pm
Cost: $25 per student
Spaces are limited so bookings are essential. To book, call 473 7268 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have you read a book lately that you think other people should read? Or maybe you’ve read a book that you don’t think anyone would want to read? You can review them here, on our newly created and simple-to-use review form.
We will publish all the good reviews (and good bad reviews) that we get.
Patrick Ness is the author of the recent award-winning YA book, The Knife of Never Letting Go (his latest book, The Ask and the Answer, is on order). He is also the first ‘online writer in residence’ for the British charity, Booktrust. Normally a writer in residence gets a house in a nice part of the world to live in and write for a year, a la the Katherine Mansfield prize. An online writer in residence doesn’t get all that, sadly, but Patrick Ness has a very nice blog going. You may also want to check out his tips for new writers.
Just Write is a writing programme with a difference. Each year Just Write supports ten young writers around the country to develop their writing and media literacy skills and increase their understanding of global issues, such as poverty, human rights and sustainability. We offer a programme of training and support, including writing workshops and one to one mentoring from a local media professional.
There are lots of benefits to being in this programme. To be eligible you must be between 14 and 18, and live in New Zealand. You can download the application form here (.pdf) by 5pm, Monday, the 16th of February. Which is, oh, only two weeks away.
Last year I did a post about authors who blog (regularly). I’ve dredged up some more, which are rather enlightening (to varying degrees).
Megan McCafferty of Sloppy Firsts fame, has an interesting take on blogging. She’s called hers a (retro)blog, and she includes writing assignments and essays she produced in school (going back to the 1980s). You’ll also find articles she’s written on the Twilight saga, containing a hint that Marcus Flutie (from Sloppy Firsts, not Twilight) is based on a real person (or persons).
Susan Beth Pfeffer, author of the horribly harrowing (really, really) stories about what happens to the earth when the moon is knocked out of orbit by an asteroid (The Dead and the Gone, and Life As We Knew It).
Brent Hartinger updates his regularly (the key to keeping a good blog, that).
Robin McKinley, author of Beauty and Sunshine (for those vampire fans). I love what she’s called her blog.
And for those Bear Grylls fans, keep up with what the Bear is up to: http://beargrylls.blogspot.com/
You’ve got almost exactly one week to get your short stories into us! Remember that the close off time is 12pm on Wednesday the 24th of December.
Some things to remember: make sure you include the following things (exactly); “forks”, “a swan” and “red carpet”. Make sure your story is no more than 350 words long too. And don’t forget to include your name and your library card number with your entry.
By the way, you can enter more than one story, but remember that we’re not pulling names out of a hat; you’re just as likely to win with one entry as with ten, so make sure it’s as good as you can get it.
By promoting creative writing as a past time, the site seeks to encourage creative thinking, proper grammar, and better writing.
Today, the Young Writers Society is proud to boast well over 3,000 members, over 10,000 poems and stories, and a review to story/poem ratio of nearly 6 to 1. The average age on the site is 17.5, and the site receives over 400 posts per day on average. There is no other site for young writers on the web that even comes close.