Elizabeth Valchar – pretty, popular and perfect – wakes up the morning after her eighteenth birthday party on her family’s yacht, where she’d been celebrating with her five closest friends. A persistent thumping noise has roused her. When she goes to investigate, what she discovers will change everything she thought she knew about her past, her future, and what lies between.
As Liz begins to unravel the circumstances surrounding her birthday night, she finds that no one, least of all Liz herself, was perfect – or innocent. And that some memories never stop following you no matter how hard you run.
What is interesting about Between is that the main character Elizabeth is popular but not exactly nice. Spoilt, selfish and superficial seems a fitting description. When she teams up with Alex, he doesn’t bother to hide his hatred of her. So what do the High School Queen and the quiet nobody have in common? I’m not telling because that would be a massive spoiler. To find out you’ll just have to pick up the book.
What teenager wouldn’t enjoy a holiday at Leisure World? Daniel Lever, that’s who. In fact it’s the last place he wants to be after his parents’ messy separation and his father’s new found friend – alcohol. However things start looking up for Daniel when he meets an attractive, but mysterious, girl by the lake.
Could having Lexi as a friend make Leisure World bearable? Maybe. But there’s something not quite right about Lexi. How come no-one else can see her? Why does her watch go backwards? And why are Lexi’s healed wounds seemingly becoming worse?
This thriller ghost story is a page-turner!
The Dead I Know
“You wake in the middle of the night, your arms and feet pinned by strong hands. As you thrash your way to consciousness, a calm voice says, ‘steady, we’re here to help.’ Your mind registers a paramedic, a policeman, an ambulance. You are lying on the lookout at Keeper’s Point, the lookout Amanda Creen supposedly threw herself off. And you have absolutely no idea how you got there”.
Extract taken from back cover.
I really enjoyed this book. Scot Gardner has created an amazing character in Aaron, a teenager with a dark career and an even darker history. In The Dead I Know, Aaron has been employed at a funeral home and is being trained in how to care for the deceased. It is a serious job and one that forces him to think on his own life and how he connects with people. His new boss John Barton is sympathetic, but the fact Aaron can’t sleep and that he wanders off when he finally does pass out, only confuses the issue.
The writing is beautiful and moving, the setting gritty and sad. This isn’t fluff or the usual Young Adult characters (hint: not a zombie or vampire in sight), but it is concerned with death and the dead. I would recommend this for the mature reader in the mood for some quality.
Red Glove is the sequel to White Cat, a book I absolutely adored. This book is also great, with Cassel continuing to deal with the fallout of a spectacularly destructive family. Throw into the mix, a godfather type figure who wants him to join the “family” business and the Feds who want him as an informer, and Cassel’s life continues to be complicated.
I can’t really go into any details as I don’t want to spoil the plot, particularly for Book 1. I beg you – don’t even touch Red Glove (no pun intended), until you have read White Cat, otherwise you’ll just ruin it for yourself. The back cover blurb gives away everything. But if you get into this series than I can guarantee you a society close to our own, where the touch of a bare hand can kill and no one is to be trusted.
Even though this book can be described as a fantasy, it doesn’t feel like one. It’s more like an alternate reality. The world Holly Black has so beautifully created is real and painful and I’m so frustrated that I have to wait until 2012 to find out how it all ends. That’s when Black Heart is finally released.
. . . click on this.
Very cool effort SimonSchuster.
The John Cleaver Trilogy
I picked up I am Not a Serial Killer because it sounded so twisted and interesting. The hero of the story John Cleaver shouldn’t really be a hero; he is a diagnosed sociopath who lacks the ability to empathise. People are things. Emotions are extreme. The possibility of violence constantly threatens. The reader shouldn’t like John Cleaver but they do and that is largely due to Dan Wells’ skill as a writer. He breaks down John’s thought processes so well that you really feel for the character as he struggles to do the right thing. Throw in some demons and a dysfunctional family situation and you get part mystery, part drama and part fantasy. This might sound an unlikely mix but trust me, it actually works and works well.
Here is part of the blurb off the back cover of Book One.
“ . . . there are two MONSTERS living in my hometown. One of them is a VICIOUS killer who tears his victims to shreds. It might be a man, it might be a wild animal, or it might be something far, far worse . . .
As for the other monster, well . . . I’m doing my best not to KILL anybody at all.
My name is John Cleaver. I’m fifteen. I’m a mortician. I’m a sociopath. But I am NOT a serial killer.
Once you get past all the mortician stuff at the beginning, the story really takes off. Each book is its own story but the trilogy as a whole is brilliantly done. I can’t write too much more for fear of giving away the plot so I’ll just conclude by saying that this series is heartfelt, tense, interesting and Book Two has one of the best endings I have read in a long, long while. For older readers.
The Hunchback Assignments
Another addition to the steampunk genre, the plot kicks off with a horrific scene involving a crazy scientist, metal and some caged animals. It took me a little while to get into this (although that is probably because I love dogs ), but it grew on me. The main character Modo is wonderful; resourceful, smart and decent. But he has a terrible secret and one that forces him to hide from the world.
This one is more for Middle School readers. The second book in the series ‘The Dark Deep’ is also available.
Cheyenne is sick and decides to wait in the car while her step-mother runs into the chemist to pick up the antibiotics she needs. The keys are left in the ignition.
Tucked up on the back seat Cheyenne isn’t immediately concerned when the driver’s door opens and shuts and the car starts. But then she realises that the sound of the door closing wasn’t quite right. Cheyenne smells cigarettes but her step-mother doesn’t smoke.
So begins Girl, Stolen a great little suspense novel by April Henry. Inadvertently kidnapped by a opportunistic car thief, Cheyenne must use all her smarts to survive. This struggle is made all the more interesting as Cheyenne is blind and the car thief (Griffin) isn’t a straight out bad guy.
I couldn’t help but compare this novel to Stolen by Lucy Christopher. While similar in content, the writing and the way each author tackles the subject is different. Stolen is definitely the grittier of the two, concerned more with the psychology and trauma of isolation and theft. Girl, Stolen instead focuses on the action created by the kidnapping and as the characters head towards the ransom exchange, the sense they are running out of time is strong.
Confession time. I have never read any of Holly Black’s work before. I had seen positive reviews, knew about the Spiderwick Chronicles and the movie they made of it (which is supposed to be good but strangely underrated) and when I picked up White Cat I assumed I was in for some fun but nothing too deep or gritty.
How wrong was I?! This book was a wonderful surprise; dark and funny, depressing and suspenseful. Yes, there is a magical element to the story but it is not front and centre. The Con – who is double crossing who and why – is really what makes this story kick.
17 year old Cassel is the youngest son in a family of magic workers. Cassel however is different. He isn’t a “worker” and after the murder of a friend it his family who step in to offer protection.
“We’re taking good care of him”. For a moment I’m thrown, trying to figure out if I’m hearing right. Barron’s downstairs. I can’t figure out why he didn’t tell me he was coming. Mom used to say that he and Phillip hid things because I was the youngest, but I knew it was because they were workers and I wasn’t. Even Grandad wasn’t coming upstairs to add me to their little conference.
I might be a member of the family, but I am always going to be an outsider.
Murdering someone didn’t help, although, from a certain perspective, you’d think it might have. At least it proved I was capable of being a criminal.
* Extract taken from pg 40.
The writing style might take a little while to get in to but stick with it. Cassel is a great character, the present day, alternate world Holly Black has created is realistic and believable and the plot keeps you guessing. There is more I would really like to add but that would be giving too much away;-). The book is easy enough to read but it gives you a fair bit to consider. I would recommend this to the more mature reader who doesn’t mind having to think a little. Edgy and unpredictable White Cat is pretty damn awesome.
This is strong Young Adult Fiction writing here. At first it took me a while to get into the style and tone the author used, but once I did I was completely sucked into the story.
Mimi is a uni student who after some heavy personal issues heads to a supposedly isolated farm house to be on her own. But she isn’t alone. Not even close.
I can imagine this as a movie but not as a cheesy horror where all the good looking cast get knocked off one by one. Instead it would be a tense psychological thriller – more Dead Calm than I Know What You Did Last Summer. I loved how Tim Wynne-Jones puts you into the mindset of the stalker so that you start to understand why he is behaving the way he is. It got to the point that where I almost didn’t want the stalker to get caught. The (sort-of) love triangle also added an interesting dynamic.
Modern but with an old school flavour, the thrills aren’t obvious but if you prefer mind games over violence (although there is still a little bit of that) then this is the book for you.