Friday, July 31, 2009

Review: The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant

The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant (April 2009, Puffin, ISBN: 0141325739)

First Line: My life might have been different had I not been known as the girl whose grandmother exploded.

Review: Ten-year-old Pia Kolvenbach lives in Bad Munstereifel, an historic, small, German town where everyone knows everything about everyone else. Her mum is English, her dad German. Whilst celebrating Advent an unfortunate accident leads to Pia's grandmother, Oma Kristel, setting herself on fire. Rumours soon circulate that Oma Kristel exploded and Pia becomes shunned by her friends. Her only ally is StinkStefan a boy nobody likes.

By necessity Pia and Stefan hang around together and Pia introduces him to Herr Schiller, an old resident of the town with an endless supply of local ghost and horror stories for them.

Then another tragedy strikes; during the parade to celebrate the end of Karneval, a young girl similar in age to Pia, called Katharina Linden, just vanishes.

Pia and Stefan want to find out what happened to Katharina, especially as more tragedies occur but it takes a life-changing event to Pia to force the pair to commit a daring act of breaking and entering which will lead them to the truth.

I really enjoyed The Vanishing of Katharina Linden. It's a book to savour. The story is narrated by an older Pia so the vocabulary and style is more mature than you might first expect. She makes for an amusing narrator such as in her descriptions of some of the old battleaxes in the town. For example of the town gossip, Frau Kessel:

She had a mass of pure white hair that had become as thin and gauzy as candyfloss; she habitually wore it piled on top of her head. Today it had been backcombed and stacked up so high that she had rather a Marie-Antoinette effect.

A wrinkled hand embossed all over with rings...

...but now she had sailed off like a little ship laden with Pandora's boxes of other people's secrets.


The book has a fairy tale feel to it but not in a Disney way, more Brothers Grimm. The girl's disappearance leaves parents very protective but there is also a claustrophobic and creepy atmosphere provided by the bad weather and reinforced by the tales from Herr Schiller. Some of his tales are quite scary. Indeed there are a couple of unpleasant scenes near the end of the book which could possibly lead to nightmares for younger readers.

The Vanishing of Katharina Linden is not full of action but it is engrossing. This difficult year for Pia holds the reader's attention and the non US/UK setting of Germany provides additional interest. An amazing debut by Helen Grant which can be enjoyed by both adults and older teenagers.

The Vanishing of Katharina Linden has been longlisted for the 2009 Booktrust Teenage Prize.

Bad Munstereifel is a real place and looks beautiful.

Cover: An eye catching title and cover made me pick this one up. I like crime fiction so the title attracted me. Katharina disappears from the town centre so the cover is not strictly accurate but does match the creepy mood of the story.

Publishing Deal - Sharon Creech

From Book2Book:

Andersen Press has acquired the rights to the next three novels by the Whitbread shortlisted and Carnegie Medal Winning author, Sharon Creech. The first book, THE UNFINISHED ANGEL, an enchantingly funny and magical tale for 8-12 year-olds, will be published this November.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Received My First Review Book

My first review book for this new blog has arrived today: Back to Life: Rachel Riley (sort of) seizes the day by Joanna Nadin. It's published on 6 August by Oxford University Press ad is the fifth in the Rachel Riley series:

Synopsis: Carpe diem i.e. seize the day! Which means utter experimenting as far as snogging is concerned. Am never going to find the ONE if just keep having accidental liaisons with Jack or ill-advised flirtations with Justin. The ONE is out there somewhere. Maybe even right under my nose. I just need to be open-minded. And open-armed. And possibly open-mouthed. Life, as they say, is what you make it. And am definitely, no doubt about it, going to make mine fabulous. Starting now. Read the hilarious results of Rachel Riley's 'seize the day' philosophy in this fantastic fifth instalment of her diaries.



The Rachel Riley website is here.

Win a copy at Teen Librarian.

Review to follow...

Waiting on Wednesday - 13 Reasons Why

Not long to wait for this one. Jay Asher's 13 Reasons Why will be published in the UK on 6 August by Puffin.

Clay Jensen returns home from school one day to find a mysterious box, with his name on it, lying on the porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker — his classmate — who committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape,
Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she did what she did — and Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list — and it'll change Clay's life forever.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Jacqueline Wilson to write Historical Novel

From The Bookseller:

Jacqueline Wilson will turn her hand to full-length historical fiction for the first time this autumn, with a book set in London's first home for abandoned children. Hetty Feather will be published in hardback on 8th October, priced £12.99. The novel is set in the Victorian era and focuses on the character Hetty Feather, who is abandoned by her mother and grows up in the Foundling Hospital.


Random House Children's Books is aiming the book at Wilson's typical audience of girls aged nine plus.

Wilson said she initially planned to write a short story for the Foundling Museum and Coram Society. She said: "I had a breathing space and started to think about a story set in the Victorian age, which I love, so I have a lot of books about that period."


She added: "Historical novels may not look easy or gripping so while Hetty Feather has a Victorian flavour, there are no anachronisms in her speech and the story is immediate and exciting. It was such enormous fun to have something that stretched me a bit but is still in my subject matter of single mums and unhappy, feisty children."


Read the whole article at The Bookseller.

Spartacus for Girls (Kate Quinn - publishing deal)

I'm not sure which age range this is aimed at but I'll look out for this next year. From The Bookseller:

Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn is a love story between a Jewish slave girl and a gladiator, who become involved in a plot to kill the Emperor Domitian. Headline will publish the title in summer 2010.

"From the blood and guts of the gladiatorial games to the machinations of the Senate, Kate brings this period of history thrillingly to life and has also crafted an incredibly moving love story."

Read the whole article at The Bookseller.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Eyes Have It (cover theme)

Darke Academy and The Glittering Eye are out now and Angels Lie is out in October.


Review: The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong (July 2008, Orbit, ISBN: 184149710X)

First Line
: (from Prologue)
Mommy forgot to warn the new babysitter about the basement.

Review: The Summoning is the first part in the Darkest Powers trilogy. Part two, The Awakening, is also available with the final part, The Reckoning, out next May.

Fifteen-year-old Chloe Saunders is being driven to school when she sees a boy run out in front of the car. Except that he's not there. At school she's chased by a burnt janitor that no-one else can see. Her aunt, who is also her doctor, ships Chloe off to a group home, Lyle House, to get some rest and possibly treatment. The psychiatrist there soon diagnoses Chloe as having schizophrenia - much more plausible than an ability to see ghosts.

Chloe's fellow detainees include surly Derek and his foster brother, the superficial seeming Simon, catty Tori and the friendly Rae and Liz. Liz reveals that she has a poltergeist getting her into trouble and asks for help from Chloe. This request sets off a chain of events which lead Chloe to the realisation that her new friends have rather a lot in common with her. How have they all ended up in Lyle House? Is there something sinister going on?

The Summoning proceeds at a steady pace with any action mostly contained to the several floors of Lyle House. Though I didn't feel a great deal happened (it's 400 pages long), I was never bored and am now eager to get onto the next book. The main characters are introduced and their 'skills' revealed, as are their family situations. Characters, who at first seem not so likeable become the ones you really must have in the next book(s). I was getting quite panicky towards the end wondering if a certain character would be in The Awakening.

I really enjoyed The Summoning and with its cliff-hanger ending, it's probably best if you have #2 to hand!

Cover: The book came highly recommended so the cover didn't influence me to pick it up. This version does imply that it is YA as - on the actual cover it says "Young Chloe Saunders has a gift..."

There is a Chloe Saunders website and a prequel story is being serialised on the Chloe Saunders myspace page (it began on 15 Jan).

Though this is a YA/Teenage series it can be found in various sections in bookshops eg paranormal romance (Borders) and horror (Waterstone's) in Birmingham at least!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Links from the Blogosphere (6)

Here are a few links from last week's blogosphere. These are in addition to the excellent blogs on my blogroll (bottom right of this page).

For Young Adult Appreciation Month The Book Smugglers have begun with interviews, reviews and giveaways from Kelley Armstrong, Claudia Gray, Kim Harrison, Melissa Marr and Aprilynne Pike.

On the Guardian Books Blog - Teen authors should be encouraged, but not always published.

A new website and movie-trailer for Charlie Higson's The Enemy (due out in September).

Mashable has the trailer for Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland.

In the New York Times details about a weekly cable show devoted to the Twilight New Moon film.

Win a copy of Back to Life by Joanna Nadin at Teen Librarian.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Borders are launching Teen departments in many stores.

YAreads interviews Patrick Ness, author of the Chaos Walking trilogy.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Library Loot (6)



This week's take home from the library:

Sarah Singleton - The Poison Garden
Sophie McKenzie - The Medusa Project The Set-Up (really looking forward to this one)
Gemma Malley - The Resistance (exchanged from hardback)
Janni Lee Simner - Bones of Faerie
L J Smith - The Vampire Diaries 2,3,4 (The Struggle, The Fury, The Reunion)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Davitt Awards 2009 - YA shortlist

The longlists for the Australian Sisters in Crime’s 9th Davitt Awards (criteria: crime/mystery fiction by an Australian woman) have been announced. The list for the Young Adult category is:

Catherine Jinks - Genius Squad (out in the US Apr 2009)
Maureen McCarthy - Somebody’s Crying
Sophie Masson - The Case of the Diamond Shadow
Isabelle Merlin - Three Wishes (out in the US Nov 2009)
Beth Montgomery - Murderer’s Thumb
Felicity Pulman - Willows for Weeping
Moya Symons - The Walk Right In Detective Agency: Open for Business
Moya Symons - The Walk Right In Detective Agency: High Crime in Milk

Unfortunately only a couple of them are listed on amazon.co.uk at a reasonable price. I have used the Australian Online Bookshop in the past to buy Australian crime novels.

Update: the winner, announced 21st August 2009 was Genius Squad by Catherine Jinks.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Vampire Diaries to be on ITV

Good news: ITV will be showing The Vampire Diaries. Bad News: not until 2010. From today's Bookseller:

ITV has acquired the rights to US series "The Vampire Diaries", which is based on the book series by L J Smith, who is published by Harper Teen in the States.

The series will be the focal point of ITV’s schedule in 2010; Kevin Williamson, who was behind “Scream” and “Dawson’s Creek” will produce. The books follow two vampire brothers—one good, one evil—are at war for the soul of a high school girl and the souls of her friends and family.

I wasn't overly impressed with the first book in the series, The Awakening, but I have now got the next three books to see if my opinion changes. Nonetheless I look forward to the tv series.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday - Never Bite a Boy on the First Date

Never Bite a Boy on the First Date by Tamara Summers is published 1 October 2009 by HarperTeen.

Newly turned vampire Kira has earned a reputation for breaking the rules. So when a student is murdered at her high school, via fang-bite, all fingers point to Kira. But she swears she had nothing to do with it! In order to prove her innocence she has to show her family that there’s another vampire in town. She’s pretty sure it’s one of three new guys who’ve moved in recently—so she goes about dating them all. Dating three cute boys may be fun, but which one is the murdering vampire? And what if he’s the boy she’s falling for...?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Teenage Extracts top the chart at Lovereading

The latest Lovereading newsletter has arrived and the chart for most downloaded extracts has two teenage reads at the top:

Top 10 Opening Extracts
Figures taken from last 7 days

1. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
2. What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

The whole table and more information on recommended teenage reads can be found on the Lovereading website.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Review: Roswell High (1) The Outsider by Melinda Metz

Roswell High (1) The Outsider by Melinda Metz (November 1999, Simon Spotlight Entertainment, ISBN: 0671774662)

First Lines: "One Sigourney Weaver and one Will Smith." Liz Ortecho slid two thick burgers onto the table - one with avocado and sprouts, one with jalapeƱo peppers and cheese.

Review: This is the first of a ten book series which was subsequently made into a three season tv series comprising a total of 61 episodes, which aired in 1999-2002. When Roswell was first shown on the tv, I quickly became addicted and I think the match between the tv theme song - Here With Me by Dido - and the relationship between the two main characters, Max and Liz, is nigh on perfect. (Not everyone though shares my enthusiasm for Dido). I bought the cd on import and also the first two books in the Roswell High series. I wish I'd bought all ten now. It's taken me 9 years to actually get round to reading The Outsider but at least I've finally have and I got the same warm glow when I read the book as I did when I watched the show.

Max, Isabel and Michael are aliens who were in incubation pods when their space-ship crashed - at the time of the infamous Roswell sighting. When they they reached the appearance of six in human years the three broke out of their pods and wandered aimlessly. Max and Isabel, brother and sister, went one way, Michael another. Max and Isabel were the lucky ones, being adopted by a loving couple, whereas Michael ended up bouncing around in foster care. The three have kept their true identities and the fact that they have special powers secret until one fateful afternoon in the Crashdown cafe when an argument between two crooks ends in Max's friend Liz being shot. Max, secretly in love with Liz, will not allow her to die and so uses his healing power to save her life and though Liz covers up for him, the local sheriff, Valenti, is soon sniffing around. He knows there are aliens around, but who are they?

Max tells Liz the truth about himself and at first she doesn't react well and when the information is also known by Liz's best friend Maria and their close friend Alex, Isabel goes frantic with worry. Max has to find a way for the group to trust each other and also devise a plan to divert Valenti's attention away from them.

The pilot for the tv series sticks quite close to The Outsider from what I can remember and I'm really looking forward to reading the rest of the books to see what's the same and what's different. In The Outsider we meet the main cast, plus the enemy (Valenti) and are now all set to watch the battle between them play out and Liz and Max's on-off-on relationship that pulls at the heartstrings, is just beginning. I love this mix of science-fiction with a 'difficult' romance.

Cover: Shows the main characters from the tv series with the exception of Alex. Main difference between the book and tv cast is that Max is supposed to be blonde (he's the actor in front and centre).

The tv series can be viewed online on the WB (US only).

The theme is on YouTube and overlays clips from all three series.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Links from the Blogosphere (5)

Here are a few links from blogs and websites that I've come across this week, in addition to those on my blog roll:

Geekspeak has the trailer for Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief.

Via Jen Robinson's Twitter - Summer 2009 Teen Book List from AdLit.org.

On pbpulse an article on how women-sink-their-teeth-into-urban-fantasy-novels, mentioning Stephenie Meyer, P C & Kristin Cast, Alyson Noel, Amber Benson and Richelle Mead and some sales figures.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Library Loot (5)

One one addition to my library book pile this week: Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley. I'm about half-way through it now. I bumped it to the top of the pile as there's a reservation on it and I have the only copy. It's a hardback and it's about the width of a paperback but about 50% taller than a paperback. Very unusual.



Synopsis from amazon.co.uk:
It's the first day of the rest of Charlotte's life. She isn't going to be invisible anymore. And she's not going to stop at just getting noticed, she's determined that she'll be envied! Much to Charlotte's surprise her plan actually seems to be working: Petula, the most popular girl at school has finally acknowledged her existence and her lab partner for the rest of the term is none other than Damen Dylan, school heart-throb and object of Charlotte's desire. It's only a matter of time before she's accepted into their elite circle...that is until, in her excitement, Charlotte chokes to death on a gummy bear.

So, ok, it's the first day of the rest of Charlotte's death - why should that change her plans?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Twilight Graphic Novel on the way

Revealed exclusively on Entertainment Weekly:

For those of you who can’t get enough Edward and Bella, EW can announce — exclusively — that Yen Press will be publishing Twilight in graphic-novel form, publication date still to be determined. Though Korean artist Young Kim is creating the art, Meyer herself is deeply immersed in the project, reviewing every panel.



Read the EW take on the above drawing and the many comments at the EW website.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Miley Cyrus in Wings?

Screenhead reports that Miley Cyrus is possibly going to play Laurel, the lead character in Aprilynne Pike's Wings:

Cyrus will play Laurel, a 15-year-old who grows up sheltered and home-schooled in a small town. Adjusting to a big high school is difficult, and her suspicion that she’s not like the other kids becomes a reality when she sprouts a pair of wings and learns that she’s a fairy.

“Wings” hit the bookshelves in May of this year, the first book of a planned four-book series.

Read the rest of the article, here.

Good News for Alex Rider fans

The new Alex Rider book will be published earlier than expected. From today's Bookseller:

Walker Books has brought forward publication of a new Alex Rider novel, Crocodile Tears, to this autumn after author Anthony Horowitz delivered the manuscript earlier than expected.

The last Alex Rider title, Snakehead, was published in 2007 and achieved £2m of sales in hardback and paperback (figs from Nielsen BookScan TCM). The eighth Alex Rider novel will now publish on 12th November.


Read the whole article here.

Waiting on Wednesday - Pastworld

Pastworld by Ian Beck is published at the end of September in the US and early October in the UK by Bloomsbury.

I like the sound of this as it sounds a mix of science fiction and mystery (and possibly romance?).

Pastworld. A city within a city. A city for excursions and outings. Pastworld is a theme park with a difference, where travellers can travel back in time for a brush with an authentic Victorian past. But what if the Jack the Ripper figure stopped play-acting and really started killing people? For Caleb, a tourist from the present day, his visit goes terribly wrong when his father is kidnapped and he finds himself accused of murder. Then Caleb meets Eva Rose, a Pastworld inhabitant who has no idea the modern world exists. Both Caleb and Eva have roles to play in the murderer's diabolical plans - roles that reveal disturbing truths about their origins.


Visit the official Pastworld website.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Publishing Deal - Marcus Sedgwick

From The Bookseller:

Orion Children's Books has acquired world rights for five young adults books by Marcus Sedgwick.

The title for the first book in the deal is still to be confirmed, but will be published in 2011.

Sedgwick has had a long standing relationship with Orion since his debut novel, The Floodland, in 2000. The new contract will run alongside a further contract with Orion Children’s Books for The Raven Mysteries series.

Read the whole announcement here.

Monday, July 13, 2009

L. A. Candy is a New York Times Best Seller

From Digital Spy:

[Lauren Conrad] the aspiring fashion designer, who quit the MTV reality show in March, has topped the Children's Book category of the list for the second week in a row with LA Candy.

Speaking to People, she said: "If someone said to me five years ago when this all started that I would one day make the New York Times Best Seller list, I wouldn't have believed it.

"I am so honoured that it is now a reality. It was such a compliment to be included in something with such established names."

Conrad has signed a three-book deal with publishing house HarperCollins to produce a series of novels inspired by her own life.
LA Candy, the first in the franchise, revolves around a young girl who moves to Hollywood and ends up starring in her own reality show.


Read an extract here.

L. A. Candy on this week's Bookseller Cover

L. A. Candy by Lauren Conrad is published in the UK on 15th July which is approximately a month after its US debut.

Synopsis:

Los Angeles is all about the sweet life: hot clubs, cute guys, designer . . . everything. Nineteen-year-old Jane Roberts can't wait to start living it up. She may be in L.A. for an internship, but Jane plans to play as hard as she works, and has enlisted her BFF Scarlett to join in the fun.

When Jane and Scarlett are approached by a producer who wants them to be on his new series, a "reality version of Sex and the City," they can hardly believe their luck. Their own show? Yes, please!

Soon Jane is TV's hottest star. Fame brings more than she ever imagined possible for a girl from Santa Barbara—free designer clothes, the choicest tables at the most exclusive clubs, invites to Hollywood premieres—and she's lapping up the VIP treatment with her eclectic entourage of new pals. But those same friends who are always up for a wild night are also out for a piece of Jane's spotlight.

In a city filled with people chasing after their dreams, it's not long before Jane wakes up to the reality that everyone wants something from her, and nothing is what it seems to be.

L.A. Candy is a deliciously entertaining novel about what it's like to come of age in Hollywood while starring in a reality TV show, written by a girl who has experienced it all firsthand: Lauren Conrad.



"Lauren Conrad is the star of MTV's number-one hit show, The Hills." (from amazon). I'm not sure how well known Lauren Conrad is in the UK but I'm assuming that there's a big promotion budget for the book, if it's on the front of the Bookseller.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Links from the Blogosphere (4)

Here are a few links I've found in the past week about Teenage/YA fiction:

The Denver Post has an article on the trend for dark young adult fiction. The LibrariYAn has a follow-up post.

The Teen Books Everyone Should Read Meme resurfaces at Escape in a Book.

The Galaxy Express highlights some YA SF novels.

The Guardian reviews The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan.

Hollywood Crush reviews Beastly by Alex Flinn which is being made into a film starring Alex Pettyfer which will be released in July 2010.

The Telegraph reviews If I Stay by Gayle Forman, Breathing Underwater by Julia Green and What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell.



Saturday, July 11, 2009

Library Loot (4)

I've added the following books from the library to my TBR pile this week:



Alison Allen-Gray - Lifegame
Helen Grant - The Vanishing of Katharina Linden
Patrick Ness - The Knife of Never Letting Go
Cassandra Clare - City of Bones
Mary E Pearson - The Adoration of Jenny Fox
Catherine Jinks - The Reformed Vampire Support Group

Now, how to prioritise this little lot?

SFX Twilight Cover

I think a copy of the latest SFX magazine will find its way into my shopping basket tomorrow (possibly along with some books...):


More details on the contents can be found on the SFX website.

W H Smith's Offer on Teenage Books

My local W H Smith's is currently offering a "buy one get one free" offer on a small selection of titles; some of them are very new: The Set-Up by Sophie McKenzie, Kiss of Life by Daniel Waters, Lois Biggs is Not Mad by Hayley Long and selected House of Night books.

Can I resist when I go shopping tomorrow...?

Friday, July 10, 2009

I've seen that face before...

The copycat covers and cover themes features have proven popular on my other blog (Euro Crime) so I thought I'd try it here. These covers are so appealing, I'd buy the books regardless of the content:



Update #3 Cover:

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Lottie Biggs is not Mad - sneak peek

I've been getting a few hits on the blog when "lottie biggs" is googled because of the link I had to the Chicklish review in my blog roll. So I thought I'd better investigate a bit more...

Synopsis: My name is Lottie Biggs and in three weeks time, I will be fifteen years old. At school, most people call me Lottie Not-Very-Biggs. I've never found this particularly funny...My current hair colour is Melody Deep Plum which is not as nice as Melody Forest Flame but definitely better than the dodgy custard color I tried last week...And this is my book - it's about important things like boys and shoes and polo-neck knickers and rescuing giraffes and not fancying Gareth Stingecombe (even though he has manly thighs) and hanging-out with your best friend having a blatantly funny time. It is definitely not about sitting in wardrobes or having a mental disturbance of any kind! Painfully honest and laugh-so-hard-you-forget-to-breathe funny.

Extract:

Introductions and all that Yawny-Yawn Boring Stuff

My name is Lottie Biggs and in three weeks time, I will be fifteen years old. At school, most people call me Lottie Not-Very-Biggs. I’ve never found this particularly funny. I am five foot tall and a fraction over half an inch. My current hair colour is Melody Deep Plum which is not as nice as Melody Forest Flame but definitely better than the dodgy custard colour I tried last week. My eyes are bog-standard blue, my chin has a dimple in it and my nose looks like a King Edward potato. My favourite subjects at school are English, History and Art, my favourite food is sweet and sour chicken and egg fried rice, and my favourite living person in the whole wide world is my best friend, Goose. My favourite dead person is the actor James Dean. I’ve got posters of him all over my bedroom walls and on the back of my bedroom door. I know it’s a bit tragic to be erotically attracted to a picture of a dead person but he does have exceptionally cool hair. When I’ve finished my GCSEs, I’m going to study English, History and Art in the sixth form and then travel around the world, making especially sure that I visit Indonesia so that I can see orang-utans swinging about in the wild. After this, I’m going to settle down with a very rich and handsome film star (one who is NOT dead) and get a job as an Art Historian in a small gallery somewhere in London like Piccadilly Circus or Trafalgar Square. Until then, it looks like I’ll have to stick with the occasional snog from Gareth Stingecombe and my Saturday job, selling shoes in Sole Mates.


Read more of the extract at Hayley Long's website.

Review: Airhead by Meg Cabot

Airhead by Meg Cabot (June 2009, Macmillan Children's Books, ISBN: 0330453823)

First Lines:
"Emerson Watts," called my first-period Public Speaking teacher, Mr Greer, startling me from the light doze into which I'd drifted.

Well, whatever. Do they really expect us to be alert at eight fifteen in the morning? Come on.*


Review: Airhead is the first in the Airhead trilogy. Book two, Being Nikki is now available in the US (September in the UK) and book three Runaway will be out in May 2010 (US).

Em Watts is a straight-A student who couldn't care less about fashion and whose best (and only) friend is Christopher and they hang out together playing a computer game, Journeyquest. Nikki Howard is the world's most famous teenage model and the face of Stark Enterprises.

Nikki and Em's worlds collide when they both attend the grand opening of a Stark megastore in Manhattan where a bizarre accident leaves Em living Nikki's life. Though Em is less than pleased about it. Can Em cope with Nikki's busy career demands, the numerous boyfriends and worst of all not being able to be friends with Christopher whom she now realises is "the one"?

I loved Meg Cabot's 1-800-Missing series so it's no surprise that I enjoyed Airhead. Airhead has a dash of fantasy/science-fiction, plenty of romance and humour and the beginnings of a mystery plot. There are some serious issues touched on, such as where does your identity lie?, but in the main it's a 'fish out of water' romp. Em is likeable as are most of her new friends, Lulu and Brandon who are FFBFs (Famous For Being Famous) and there are some peeks at the demanding life of a model.

Airhead
paves the way for the next two books and I can't wait to read Being Nikki.

Cover: Fun cover, showing this is a quite light-hearted book. I quite like the fact that there isn't a model on the front, unlike the US cover, as this doesn't give a preconceived idea as to what Nikki looks like.

*Read a longer extract at Meg Cabot's website.

Meg Cabot also has a separate UK website.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday - Abandon

This one's a year away so no cover details yet. Meg Cabot's new paranormal trilogy begins with Abandon:

PUBLISHER(S): US – Scholastic, UK – Macmillan
DELIVERY DATE: August 2010
BLURB: The myth of Persephone’s abduction by the ruler of the Underworld is given a modern twist in this new trilogy by Meg Cabot.
In Book One, ABANDON, we meet popular, outgoing Max Harper. Max is the only one who saw the man standing beside her grandmother’s deathbed in Bay Island Hospital. No one--not Max’s parents, her beloved aunt Susan, her little sister Mina, best friend Rachel, or even boyfriend Nate Rector--believes in the leather-coated apparition fourteen-year-old Max insists she saw. No one except Angela, Rector High’s token Goth, whom everyone assumes is crazy anyway. But Max isn’t about to give up. She’s determined to find the man she’s convinced is in some way responsible for her grandmother’s death.

Taken from Marsh Agency Rights pdf.

The publishing date is not yet confirmed according to Meg Cabot's forum:

Since Abandon is set to be released as a three book trilogy all at once (or with each book released just a few months apart), the release date may be put off once again since I'm not done with the second and third books in the series yet.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Review: Genesis by Bernard Beckett

Genesis by Bernard Beckett (May 2009, Quercus Publishing Plc, ISBN: 1847247237)

First Lines:
First Hour

Anax moved down the long corridor. The only sound was the gentle hiss of the air filter overhead. The lights were down low, as demanded by the new regulations. She remembered brighter days, but never spoke of them. It was one of the Great Mistakes, thinking of brightness as a quality of the past.

Review: It's the latter part of the 21st Century. The world has been devastated by war and by a plague. The only survivors inhabit The Republic, a group of islands surrounded by the 'Great Sea Fence', from which any refugees are repelled by deadly force, in case they are infected.

Anaximander is a student who is trying to gain entrance to the prestigious and exclusive Academy. Her final examination is an oral presentation taking five hours and her chosen subject is the rebel Adam Forde. Over the course of the five hours, Anax supplies several holographic presentations as well as being cross-examined. Through this structure, we the reader, get to know about The Republic and bit by bit, who Adam Forde was, what he did and his importance to the community's current way of life.

Genesis is a thought provoking book. The Republic is no Utopia but it is pragmatic, what would others do in the same situation? The story of Adam is gripping and one of the final revelations will provoke one of two reactions: either an "I thought so" and a flick back through the pages to confirm the the clues, or complete surprise and a flick back through the pages to see what was missed or misinterpreted. Either way the book is one that will clamour to be read again and is one that lingers long in the mind.

Genesis is available in adult, young adult and audio editions.

Cover: Gorgeous cover with the sea wall in the background.

Patrick Ness reviews Genesis in The Guardian. Genesis is on the longlist for the Guardian's Children's Fiction Prize.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Links from the Blogosphere (3)

Here are a few links from blogs and websites that I've come across this week, in addition to those on my blog roll.

The Bookbag reviews Kiss of Life by Daniel Waters.

The Bookseller - A novel about a teenage knife gang, which retells the myths of King Arthur and Camelot in a contemporary urban environment, is to be staged at the Glyndebourne opera festival.

Booktrust reveals the longlist for their Teenage Prize

The Scotsman reviews Teen Fiction

Simon & Schuster have a 'microsite' for Sophie McKenzie's new Medusa Project series.

The Times includes some teenage fiction recommendations in its Children's Summer Reads selection.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Library Loot (3)

I've added the following books from the library to my TBR pile this week:




Meg Cabot - Airhead (currently reading this one)
Sarah Rees Brennan - The Demon's Lexicon
Melinda Metz - Roswell High (3) The Seeker & (8) The Rebel
Alex Duval - Vampire Beach (1) Bloodlust
Melissa Marr - Ink Exchange & Fragile Eternity

Comments on the above are most welcome, especially about the Vampire Beach series as I've not heard much about that one before.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Review: The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening by L J Smith

The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening by L J Smith (July 2007, Hodder Children's Books, ISBN: 034094501X)

First Lines:
4 September
Dear Diary,
Something awful is going to happen today.

Review: The Awakening is the first of a quartet of books originally published in 1991-92. A follow up book, Nightfall, was published in February 2009 in the US.

In The Awakening we are introduced to Elena Gilbert, an orphan who, along with her young sister, is being cared for by her aunt in the family home in the quiet town of Fell's Church.

Elena is beautiful and 'queen' at the Robert E Lee High School. She's gone out with many boys but none has kept her interest and she only feels a deep friendship for her latest boyfriend Matt. But when Stefan Salvatore joins her year she becomes determined to have him. Especially when he shows that he's not interested in her. But Stefan is hiding a big secret and no-one gets close to him.

At the same time that Stefan moves to the area, a series of attacks begins, leading ultimately to a killing. What's the connection between Stefan and the attacks and will Elena get her man? All is revealed before the story is left on a tantalising cliff-hanger.

I was steered towards these books by the trailer for the upcoming tv series and I was looking forward to reading them before the series (hopefully) reaches the UK. An advantage of coming to a series late is that all the books are readily available, without the agonising wait. Unfortunately I was rather disappointed with The Awakening. The main problem being the lead character Elena. I didn't warm to her at all, with her constant comments on how popular she was and how attractive and so on, she came across as shallow. What would the sophisticated Stefan see in her? Her friends, Bonnie (who has psychic tendencies) and Meredith are much nicer, though none of the characters have any real depth. Also, the book is only 230 pages and yet I found it dragged. The saving grace for me was the last 50 pages where Stefan's secret is revealed, another character is introduced and an interesting situation is set up.

I'm probably in the minority of readers who didn't like this book and it has to be said that I'm still intrigued enough to have reserved the next three books: The Struggle, The Fury and The Reunion at the library.

Cover: Accurate cover: a crow and trees feature prominently. Nice font for the title.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday - Skinned

The UK paperback (and debut) of Skinned by Robin Wasserman is out on 6 August published by Simon & Schuster Children.

Lia Kahn is beautiful, popular and destined for success...until the horrific accident that nearly kills her. Lia wakes up in a body that is not a body. It's a machine, designed to look and feel human, and her memories have been 'downloaded'. Lia will never age. She need never feel pain again. And, as long as she is vigilant about backing up her memories, she need never die. Struggling to come to terms with what has happened, Lia tries to return to her own life. But nothing is the same...She's one of the "mechanicals" or "mechs" now. Her friends and boyfriend turn their backs on her, shutting her out. Even her own family can't seem to understand that underneath it all, she's still the same person. Or is she? Drawn to a seemingly reckless circle of "mechs", Lia starts to see the limitless options of her new "body" - after all, there isn't anything they can't do! But there are some who would like to see the new technology vanish, and these strange mechanical beings along with it. Can you really be human without a body? And is it technically murder to "kill" a machine...? In the tradition of Scott Westerfeld comes a riveting and edgy science fiction novel which raises questions of mortality, technology and morality.