Monday, 31 October 2011

Monday Musings: Review of We Can Be Heroes by Catherine Bruton

12 year old Ben lost his father in 9/11 and has now been sent to stay with his grandparents due to his mother being in hospital suffering from mental problems. His cousin Jed - 14, the only child of an obnoxious racist and a mother who's banned from seeing him - is also staying there. And the pair meet the enchanting Priti, an 11 year old Muslim girl who's convinced her brother is a future suicide bomber and that her sister is likely to be the victim of an honour killing if she carries on seeing her white boyfriend...

This was one I've been looking forward to ever since I first read the premise and, if anything, it actually surpassed my expectations! Priti is a truly beguiling character, while narrator Ben is wonderfully sympathetic, and other characters like Jed and his hateful father Ian are just as memorably drawn. Bruton manages to deal with the serious issues of prejudice towards Muslims, bereavement and family using a light touch, but the humour of the first part of the book eventually gives way to some incredible action as the trio become ever more certain that their suspicions are right, and the racial tension in the city of Birmingham escalates further and further.

Despite the length - not a lightweight book by any means at 400 pages - I absolutely devoured this and it's probably one of my three favourite YA books of the year so far. Apologies for the brevity of the review, by the way, but this is definitely one where you should discover most of it for yourself!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Waiting On Wednesday: The 13th Horseman by Barry Hutchison

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

The 13th Horseman by Barry Hutchison.

From Amazon:

Drake Finn has just met the Horsemen of the Apocalypse but is that really the end of the world? Pratchett meets Python in this dark comic fantasy with plenty of action, perfect for 11+ boys

Drake is surprised to find three horsemen of the apocalypse playing snakes and ladders in his garden shed. He’s even more surprised when they insist that he is one of them. They’re missing a Horseman, having gone through several Deaths and they think that Drake is the boy for the job. At first he’s reluctant to usher in Armageddon but does being in charge of Armageddon have to spell the end of the world?

An apocalyptic blend of riotous comedy, heart-stopping action and a richly imagined fantasy adventure.

Why I can't wait to read it:

I have to be honest, originally, after reading the description, I had this down as a maybe. But then I found this poster and thought, hey, awesome sense of humour AND quoting Everybody's Free To Wear Sunscreen? In the words of a fabulous speaker I saw last week, you'll do for me, Barry!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Halloween Books To Read

Well, I wanted to get back into writing entries after a month or so of being ridiculously busy in my real job, but my tastes don't run that much to horror, so this may be interesting...

Links go to reviews on The Bookbag.

1. The Monstrumologist series by Rick Yancey - As if I could start anywhere else. This is a sequence which just gets better every book, and has a unique mixture of gore and wonderful writing. As I said, I'm not that big a horror fan - but this would win anyone over.

2. By Midnight by Mia James - British vampire story which stands out from the crowd thanks to an awesome setting in London and some really tense moments.

3. The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove by Lauren Kate - The obvious Kate recommendations for this time of year are the Fallen series, but I think her non-supernatural first book - a high school Macbeth - is perhaps more fitting.

4. Forbidden Game trilogy by LJ Smith - Heart-stoppingly terrifying. Group of friends start playing mysterious game which transports them to a world where the sinister Shadow Man is in charge. First is very good, the other two are staggeringly great.

5. Dark Secrets: Don't Tell by Elizabeth Chandler - Seventeen year old girl returns to the town where her mother died to live with her godmother and cousins, one of whom is rather strange. Seriously chilling.

6. Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine - I'm only a few books into this series but it's definitely an interesting one, as new student Claire Danvers finds out that Morganville is a dangerous place to live.

7. Bang Bang You're Dead by Narinder Dhami - Mia is having enough trouble coping with her mother, who suffers from manic depression, without having to deal with her twin brother's problems as well. But then a rumour spreads that someone in her school has a gun - could it be Jamie? Very different from everything else on the list but still incredibly tense.

8. Mortlock by Jon Mayhew - Imagine Roald Dahl listened to a LOT of traditional folk ballads and then set to write an 1850's adventure. Some fabulous stuff here. (The Demon Collector, by the same author, is worth checking out as well.)

9. Evernight by Claudia Gray - Another vampire book. Except EVERYTHING here is different. Superb.

10. Caster Chronicles by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl - I was planning on leaving this one out as it's YA paranormal rather than being horror as such. Then I decided that since it's probably the best sequence going - only the Monstrumologist comes close - it would be stupid to waste time arguing about the exact genre and I should just encourage anyone who hasn't already got started on Beautiful Creatures, book 1, to go out and buy it now.