Thursday, August 30, 2012

Review: The Flip Flop Club: Whale Song by Ellen Richardson

The Flip Flop Club: Whale Song by Ellen Richardson (July 2012, Oxford University Press, ISBN: 0192756621)

Review: Whale Song is the second in the Flip Flop Club series set on Sunday Island (which I think is probably off Cornwall) following on from Charmed Summer.

The local newspaper is offering a prize to whoever first photographs the Northern Bottlenose whale. So best friends Tash, Elly and Sierra want to win and get up super early to go out in Tash's dinghy, Mojo, taking Mojo the dog along too.

As they are nearing the Western Isles one of Sunday Island's notorious freak storms comes from nowhere and leaves the girls stranded on a small island with only the food and water they were carrying. Will they get rescued before the end of the day or will they have to camp (much to home-comforts-loving Sierra's disgust)?

Whilst the girls are waiting for rescue they're not idle and end up having some memorable experiences with some of the sea's residents and solving an old mystery regarding the disappearance of Sunday Island's most famous person.

Whale Song is action-packed and quite scary at the beginning as the girls wrestle with the huge waves. The girls (and Mojo) do wear life-jackets (see this post by Helen Moss!). They are very resourceful: constructing flags, a makeshift raft and fire (using the glass in a pair of binoculars).

As before, as well as the story (154 pages), there is the first chapter of the next book (Midnight Messages), quizzes and other activities, plus some facts about whales.

The next two books in the series come out in 2013: Midnight Messages (January) and Star Struck (May).

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Poster Time - Wake

The most recent YA book I've spotted getting the poster treatment at train stations is Wake by Amanda Hocking:

A very enticing cover, especially to this land-locked Midland-er!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Review: The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross (June 2012, Mira Ink, ISBN: 1848451121)

Review: The Girl in the Steel Corset follows on very shortly after the novella, The Strange Case of Finley Jayne, which is also included in this UK print version.

It's a steampunk Victorian England and Finley Jayne, is a sixteen-year-old who has two sides to her personality, a timid one and a 'dark' one which makes her super-strong, fast and fearless and appears when she is threatened. When the son of the household she's currently working for threatens her virtue, her darker self takes control and leaves him badly injured on the floor. Fleeing, she collides with a velocycle being ridden by Griffin King, the Duke of Greythorne. Finley is knocked unconscious and taken to the Duke's home which he shares with the super-intelligent Emily and the super-sized Sam.

It seems that Griff and his gang secretly help to protect the Queen and currently they are on the trail of the Machinist who is stealing objects from museums but also turning machines deadly; Sam has had to be "rebuilt" after an encounter with a rogue digging machine.

Finley has the choice: to stay with Griff and trust him or run, again...

The mystery of Finley's two natures is fairly swiftly explained but she is still an unknown quantity and is trusted in various degrees by the group. A violent confrontation between her and one of the gang ultimately seals her fate.

The Girl in the Steel Corset is an enjoyable read, there is a mystery (though not too taxing), some fighting, lots of gadgets and a love triangle developing, as Finley is drawn to both the "good" Griff and the "bad" Jack Dandy, a young crime lord.

The characters, including several strong female roles, are ones you are interested in and the story overall is intriguing. My only reservations are, first, the writing as I sometimes had to reread a sentence; at times there is a clipped-ness to it, a lack of punctuation and a wandering point of view and secondly there's the issue of the occasionally less than British sounding-ness of the characters. I'm not sure how many Victorians would say "We good?" and there is a rather inappropriate use of a swear word that rhymes with banker that must have a different use in the US.

Nonetheless I sped through it and look forward to The Girl with the Clockwork Collar.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Review: Airhead: Runaway by Meg Cabot

Airhead: Runaway by Meg Cabot (February 2011, Macmillan Children's Books, ISBN: 033045384X)

Review: The following contains spoilers for the the first and second parts of the Airhead trilogy: Airhead and Being Nikki.

Runaway is the final part of the Airhead trilogy and picks up a few days after the end of Being Nikki. The Em Watts version of Nikki Howard has been imprisoned by Brandon Stark along with the real Nikki Howard, her mum and her brother in Brandon's beach house in South Carolina. The real Nikki Howard has a secret that will bring Brandon's dad, the CEO of Stark Enterprise to his knees leaving the door open for Brandon to take over. She will spill the beans if she can have her own body back something which Brandon apparently agrees to.

In leaving with Brandon, Em was forced to tell Christopher, her long-time friend and boyfriend-to-be (she hopes) that she didn't love him so she's very surprised when he turns up to rescue her. However things don't go to plan and he leaves without her. A second rescue attempt is more successful and the group return to New York.

With the gang reassembled, Em has to work out the significance of Nikki's information and work out how to ruin Stark as well as preparing to be the Stark Angel on national tv in a diamond bikini set. And make Christopher love her again...

Runaway is an exciting thriller with strong female leads who are complemented by the male characters, with their technology knowledge, to form a strong team. Em is brave to the point of foolhardiness in her pursuit of the truth but is also, finally, prepared to ask for help. Runaway sees Em comfortable with her new self at last. There are some great secondary characters including Lulu, Em's best friend with her own special skill set and Nikki's brother Steven who uses his brawn as well as his brain when necessary. It's a shame that the series has ended as I enjoyed spending time in Em's world however the series is wrapped up neatly and all mysteries solved.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Guest Post: Caroline Lawrence

If you follow my other blog, Euro Crime, you'll have seen this already but as Caroline is talking to current crime writers about their favourite children's books then it fits nicely into both blogs.

I'm very pleased to welcome Caroline Lawrence to Teenage Fiction for All Ages. She has guest-posted before about her favourite character from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and I have reviewed the first of her Western Mysteries, The Case of the Deadly Desperados (which is now out in paperback) and I have the second book, The Case of the Good-Looking Corpse in my tbr.

(The links in the article below are to the author's bibliography on the Euro Crime website.)

Adult Crime Writers' Fave Kids' Crime Books

I was recently invited to attend Crime in the Court at Goldsboro Books in Cecil Court - not a ‘court’ at all, but a charming pedestrian alley two skips and a hop from Leicester Square. Full of antiquary book shops, old post card dealers and other such quainteries it even has its own website and Twitter account.

Goldsboro Books, owned by David Headley and Daniel Gedeon, specialize in UK first editions, especially crime novels. I first began signing stock for them a dozen years ago when my first Roman Mysteries came out and they were working out of their own homes. Now they have a posh shop where a real murder was once committed. They had a notion to host a drinks’ party wherein fans could meet authors and vice versa. Thus Crime in the Court was conceived.

On Tuesday 3 July 2012, about sixty authors, agents and faithful fans were invited to arrive at 6.30. In theory it was to be wine and canapés on a balmy summer evening. In reality it was grey and drizzling. But crime writers are not easily discouraged, nor are their fans!

By 7.00 the alley was seething with literary types. I don’t drink and being an author of kids crime books I knew hardly any of the 'grown up' crime writers, so in order to break some ice I went around asking the illustrious writers to name the first crime book they read as a child. Although I only spoke to a couple of dozen, they were all good sports and played along. (Crime writers really are among the nicest people in the world.)

As you might expect, many of those I canvassed claimed the early influence of authors such as Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle & Dorothy L Sayers.

Erin Kelly told me that her seminal book was The Body in the Library, by Agatha Christie. She read it aged twelve and it changed her life. My pal Sophie McKenzie was also twelve when she read Christie’s 4.50 from Paddington at her aunt and uncle’s house. Sophie writes crime for Young Adults and her first adult crime book is out in September. Kate Rhodes (author of Crossbones Yard) loved all of Agatha Christie’s oeuvre and Elly Griffiths specifically remembers adoring Murder on the Orient Express.

Charlotte Phillips devoured Carolyn Keene’s Nancy Drew series, about the feisty American high school student sleuth. My pal Lauren St John, author of the Laura Marlin Mysteries for kids, seconded Nancy Drew but also mentioned John D MacDonald and Alastair McLean as early influences. (Not too early, I hope!)

Adrian Magson, author of the Inspector Rocco crime series set in 1960s France, got started reading Leslie Charteris’ The Saint books at the tender age of 8. He liked the crime and admitted that "the girls didn’t hurt".

Barbara Nadel, author of more than a dozen books about Çetin İkmen, a chain-smoking and hard-drinking cop on the Istanbul police force, remembers The Faraway Tree books by Enid Blyton. Not really crime, she admitted, though there was often a mystery.

Mark Billingham read The Godfather and Jaws the summer he was fourteen, and loved them both. This was before either came out as a film. He told me they were hugely influential on his decision to become a writer.

You don’t often think of Roald Dahl, Dodie Smith and Beatrix Potter as crime writers, but they are.

Simon Toyne, author of Sanctus and The Key, loved Danny the Champion of the World, by Roald Dahl. He particularly relished the drugging and stealing of the pheasants by placing sleeping pills in raisins. (Kids, don’t try this at home.)

Alison Bruce, author of the DC Goodhew series, praised Dodie Smith’s 101 Dalmatians with its child kidnap and extortion.

Platinum blonde noir-writer Laura Wilson loved A Fierce Bad Rabbit by Beatrix Potter. The way he took a carrot without asking gave her a frisson she never forgot.

Matt Hilton cited a coming-of-age crime novel called Ginger, and also the adventures of Willard Price.

Chris Carter author of the L.A.-based Robert Hunter mysteries, remembers a Portugese book roughly translated The Crime Genius.

Western-loving Mike Stotter devoured the Adam Steele series of Western crime novels by George G. Gilman. (I hope they weren’t as horridly violent as Gilman’s more recent books!)

When Penny 'Tideline' Hancock was eight or nine, she read The Young Detectives by R.J. McGregor and relished the secret passages, etc.

Finally, Goldsboro co-owners Daniel Gedeon & David Headley shared their picks. Daniel’s favourite kids’ crime author was the overall winner Agatha Christie, and David’s fave crime book was oft-chosen Danny the Champion of the World. And mine? Nancy Drew, the coolest, cleverest, most independent girl I had ever met.

* * *

Caroline Lawrence writes three history-mystery series for kids, The Roman Mysteries, The Roman Mysteries Scrolls and The P.K. Pinkerton Mysteries. Her latest P.K. Pinkerton Mystery for kids 8+ boasts a dozen shootouts, three corpses and one forking in the Wild West town of Virginia City.

Many thanks to Caroline Lawrence and Orion Childrens for arranging this.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Review: Forbidden by Syrie James & Ryan M James

Forbidden by Syrie James and Ryan M James (February 2012, HarperCollins Childrens Book Group, ISBN: 0062027891)

Review: Forbidden is the first in a projected series about Claire and Alec. Claire is a sixteen-year-old student at an exclusive school in Los Angeles. Her mum is prone to moving them on every couple of years, “to keep them safe” and her father is unknown. Alec is a mysterious figure who has decided to opt out of his job, well he has done it for a century, and pretend to be a regular human and enrols at Claire's school.

Alec find himself hanging out with Claire and her two friends Erica and Brian. But something odd's happening to Claire: she's begun to have psychic visions and for the first time in her life can sing like an angel. When Alec saves the group's life after some scaffolding collapses, Claire begins to suspect Alec is not quite human.

Both Claire and Alec have secrets which they eventually reveal to each other which complicates their future whilst their attraction to each other is deepening into love. There are people (or beings) who want to kill Claire and it's against Alec's previous rules to be with a human. However they forge a bond which will not be destroyed by anything.

Without wanting to give too much away, Forbidden sets up a new 'angel' mythology (and Alec has some cool powers). There are a couple of action scenes and an unexpected turn of events near the end but it's the romance which is to the fore. Gorgeous, Scottish Alec falls for Claire the minute he sees her and their relationship has to overcome many obstacles. Fortunately Claire has her friends and a mysterious figure who comes to her telepathically to guide her. The point of view alternates between Claire and Alec so the reader gets to know both characters and what's going on with them. I liked how Claire had friends whom she kept in the loop, rather than suffering alone, and there is the vague hint of a love-triangle with Neil, who's she's had a crush on for two years, who is now being interested in her, though of course Alec is THE ONE.

Forbidden is an enjoyable, romantic read, and the mythology made more sense to me than that in Lauren Kate's The Fallen series (though I've only read the first two books). I hope there will be a sequel as there are plenty of unresolved issues to tie up.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Published in August 2012

Here are some of the teenage/YA titles that are being published in the UK in August 2012. I will put a link to this post and previous and subsequent "monthly" lists in my sidebar. January's list is here, February's is here, March's is here, April's is here, May's is here, June's is here and July's is here.

I have tried to identify all the British authors which I hope will be useful to those doing Kirsty's British Books Challenge at The Overflowing Library (please let me know of any errors or omissions).

This is still a work-in-progress so I'll continue to update it during the month.
Alexandra Adornetto - Heaven (30th, Atom, pb)
Sarah Alderson - Losing Lila (2nd, Simon & Schuster Childrens Books, pb) British Author
Harry Allen - Ibarajo Road (2nd, Frances Lincoln Children's Books, pb) British Author
Brodi Ashton - Everneath (2nd, Simon & Schuster Childrens Books, pb)
Julie Berry - Secondhand Charm (2nd, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, pb)
Tim Bowler - Firestorm (2nd, OUP Oxfor, pb) British Author
Sarah Rees Brennan - Unspoken (30th, Simon & Schuster Childrens Books, pb)
Theresa Breslin - Spy for the Queen of Scots (2nd, Doubleday Childrens, HB) British Author
Lil Chase - Secrets, Lies and Locker 62 (30th, Quercs, pb) British Author
Lauren Child - Ruby Redfort (1) - Look into my eyes (2nd, HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks, pb) British Author
B R Collins - Maze Cheat (2nd, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, pb) British Author
Yvonne Collins & Sandy Rideout - The Black Sheep (27th, Allison & Busby, pb)
Andrea Cremer - Rift (7th, Atom, pb)
Ali Cronin - Girl Heart Boy: No Such Thing as Forever (2nd, Puffin, pb) British Author
Julie Cross - Tempest (30th, Macmillan Children's Books, pb)
Kevin Crossley-Holland - Scramasax: The Viking Sagas, Book Two (30th, Quercus, HB) British Author
Susie Day - My Invisible Boyfriend (2nd, Marion Lloyd Books, pb) British Author
Susie Day - Twice-Lived Summer of Bluebell Jones (2nd, Marion Lloyd Books, pb) British Author
Joseph Delaney - Spook's: I Am Grimalkin (30th, Red Fox, pb) British Author
Tom Easton - Hav3n (2nd, Andersen, pb) British Author
Janet Edwards - Earth Girl (16th, Harper Voyager, pb) British Author
Jasper Fforde - The Song of the Quarkbeast (30th, Hodder & Stoughton, pb) British Author
Sally Gardner - The Double Shadow (2nd, Indigo, pb) British Author
Alison Goodman - Eona: Return of the Dragoneye (2nd, David Fickling Books, pb)
Gavin J Grant (ed)- Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories (2nd, Walker, pb)
Tessa Gratton - Blood Keeper (30th, Doubleday Childrens, pb)
Bethany Griffin - Masque of the Red Death (2nd, Indigo, pb)
Daniel Handler - Why We Broke Up (6 Aug, Electric Monkey, pb)
Joanne Harris - Runelight (2nd, Corgi Childrens, pb) British Author
Cora Harrison - Debutantes (2nd, Macmillan Children's Book, pb)
Sam Hawksmoor - The Hunting (2nd, Hodder, pb)
Will Hill - Department 19: The Rising (2nd, HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks, pb) British Author
Nancy Holder & Debbie Viguie - Wolf Springs Chronicles: Unleashed (2nd, Corgi Childrens, pb)
Cathy Hopkins - Love at Second Sight (2nd, Simon & Schuster Childrens Books, pb) British Author
Gregory Hughes - Summertime of the Dead (30th, Quercus, HB) British Author
Sam Hawksmoor - The Hunting (2nd, Hodder Children's Books, pb)
Tonya Hurley - The Blessed (2nd, Hodder Children's Books, pb)
Melody James - Signs of Love: Stupid Cupid (2nd, Simon & Schuster Childrens Books, pb) British Author
S J Kincaid - Insignia (2nd, Hot Key Books, pb)
Derek Landy - Kingdom of the Wicked (30th, HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks, HB)
Pittacus Lore - The Rise of Nine (30th, Puffin, HB)
John Lucas - TURF (2nd, Bodley Head, pb) British Author
Katie McGarry - Pushing the Limits (3rd, Mira Ink, pb)
Sarah J Maas - Throne of Glass (2nd, Bloomsbury Children's Books, pb)
David Massey - Torn (2nd, Chicken House, pb)
Elizabeth Miles - Envy (30th, Simon & Schuster Childrens Books, HB)
Robert Muchamore - Guardian Angel (2nd, Hodder Children's Books, HB)
Marie-Aude Murail - My Brother Simple (2nd, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, pb)
Sarah Mussi - Angel Dust ( 2nd, Hot Key Books, pb) British Author
Benjamin J Myers - Bad Tuesdays 6: The Spiral Horizon (2nd, Orion Childrens, pb)
Alyson Noel - A Riley Bloom Novel: Whisper (2nd, Macmillan Children's Books, pb)
Jana Oliver - The Demon Trappers: Foretold (2nd, Macmillan Children's Books, pb)
Kenneth Oppel - Such Wicked Intent (2nd, David Fickling Books, HB)
James Patterson - Angel (2nd, Arrow, pb)
James Patterson - Nevermore (2nd, Arrow, HB)
Gillian Philip - Wolsbane (10th, Strident Publishing Limited, pb) British Author
Bali Rai - Fire City (30th, Corgi Childrens, pb) British Author
Kathy Reichs - Code (2nd, Arrow (Young), HB)
William Richter - Dark Eyes (2nd, Puffin, pb)
Jeyn Roberts - Rage Within (30th, Macmillan Children's Books, pb)
Amy Kathleen Ryan - Spark (2nd, Macmillan Children's Books, pb)
Steven Savile - Risen: Dark Waters (2nd, Sunbird, pb)
Kieran Scott - This is So Not Happening (30th, Simon & Schuster Childrens Books, pb)
Kiersten White - Endlessly (2nd, HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks, pb)
Moira Young - Rebel Heart (2nd, Marion Lloyd Books, pb)
Michelle Zink - Circle of Fire (2nd, Atom, pb)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Review: The Flip Flop Club: Charmed Summer by Ellen Richardson

The Flip Flop Club: Charmed Summer by Ellen Richardson (April 2012, Oxford University Press, ISBN: 0192756613)

Notes: Instead of a theme for the children's reading group meeting at the beginning of the summer holidays I selected a variety of new and summery reads. This one had been on my radar for a while because of its gorgeous cover so I was fortunate the library had it in stock in time.

Review: Charmed Summer is the first book in the Flip Flop Club series set on Sunday Island. Elly is sent to the Island to stay with her late-mother's sister for the summer holidays. Elly is bored and wants to go back to London until a mysterious note on her bed invites her to a secret meting at midnight. Unable to resist the challenge she sneaks out and along the way meets Sierra, who also has a note and finally they meet their inviter, Tash and her dog Mojo.

The girls form instant friendships and the summer on what the locals call Mystery Island promises to be a lot more exciting, especially when the girls find that they're connected by the past. A past with a present mystery to solve.

This is a charming opener to a series, which sets up the location and the three girls' histories and personalities. The mystery they have to solve revolves around friendships and trust but they have a lot of outdoor fun too with swimming, climbing and even a perilous trip on a home-made raft. The girls have a den too (!) and pass notes via the intelligent Mojo.

The Flip Flop Club series is aimed at girls (9+); two of the three main characters are outdoorsy and the third is a champion swimmer with a passion for fashion and a slight tendency to scream when frightened.

As well as Charmed Summer (177 pages) the book contains a sample from book two Whale Song, a quiz to see which character you're most like, a wordsearch, recipes and advice on jazzing up your flip-flops. There is a second quiz to give you a secret password to access additional material on the website.

Thematically similar is Helen Moss's Adventure Island series which is aimed at a slightly older readership than the Flip Flop Club series and has two boys (incomers) and a local girl (and her dog) as its lead characters.