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Ten Things We Shouldn't Have Done
Ten Things We Shouldn't Have Done
by Sarah Mlynowski
Edition: Paperback
72 used & new from $0.73

5.0 out of 5 stars Great teen read., August 4, 2011
'Ten Things We Shouldn't Have Done' luckily isn't an inane list of cliched behaviour but a very funny look at a teenagers first steps without parental supervision which invariably ends up with a flooded kitchen, boyfriend trouble, peer group dilemmas, a kitten requiring $3000 surgery and a party. Not forgetting the pink hot tub.

The book starts off and ends very like that old yellow pages ad with April, born in March, waking up the morning after the night before with her parents phoning to say they'll be at the house in 20 minutes. Just various alcohol, underwear and boys to clean up in record time.

It's fun but also meaty with some real issues to do with divorced parents, going on the pill, losing your virginity, lying about losing your virginity... Very modern and relevant and teens should also be able to pick up some tips for hoodwinking their parents especially through email.

April gets away with a suprising amount but their are consequences and realistically explored downsides to all that fun. It's educational, informative and backs up those 'talks' that embarass your teenage offspring with only being the teensiest like a public health service announcement.

Highly recommended for mature teenage girls 14ish+ and also mature teenage boys if they want to understand how teenage girls tick.

Monsters of Men: Chaos Walking: Book Three
Monsters of Men: Chaos Walking: Book Three
by Patrick Ness
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.29
101 used & new from $0.17

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb - 2011 Carnegie Medal Winner, June 26, 2011
This has been an outstanding trilogy to read. It's one of the handful of stories I can remember where and when I read each book. It's such an epic series it will stay with you a long time.

The breath and scope of the storyline is amazing. It deals with wide panaromas of space and travel to minute - literally in your head - personal conflicts and struggles with the genius idea of 'noise' laying all mens' thoughts open to the world which creates a whole lot of paranoia and action between men and women, Spackle aliens and human settlers. Ness cleverly finds something positive in the noise (if you love Avatar you'll love this!) and turns all the preconceptions about the dangers of noise from the previous books upside down. While at the same time keeping up a level of action, suspense and fear waiting for the other settlers to arrive from space. What will they find? You are left guessing as the power shifts and turns in this breathtaking book. Lots of different fonts for the different voices, action and characters make this an easy book to read (I almost threw the first book away due to frustrations of not being able to make head or tail of it but this book is much better laid out).

I found myself forgetting what a villian President Prentiss was in this book much the way Todd gets sucked into his warped world but beyond the old struggles this book details an epic war between the infighting settlers and the Spackle. How war affects and changes the characters is amazing to read and probably will resonate with teenagers a lot more than some turgid history lessons about suffragettes and World Wars ever will.

A must read trilogy.

Wish You Were Here
Wish You Were Here

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Melancholy, June 26, 2011
I'm finding it hard to star rate this book between 3-4 stars so I'm going with the Amazon 4 star definition of 'I liked it', although I didn't. It's better than o.k. but I can't see myself recommending it to anyone which is usually the case with a 4 star plus book.
I've never read a book I could sum up in one word before but this novel is melancholy. If you've suffered a recent bereavement then I would wait some time before reading this. There is a deep sadness around the whole story and it's a summary of what remains after all the fight has gone out of a person, or couple in this case.
Early on we are faced with the premise that Jack Luxton, the last of the Luxton line of farmers is sitting with a gun on his bed and his partner is sitting in a car in the rain. There is a final suspense filled resolution to this story and I found myself cautiously turning the pages as in some ways I couldn't bear to find out what happened. I left the last few chapters for a day.
In the main body of the novel the 'wish you were here' premise is expertly explored from it's cliched postcard meaning when wistful Jack sends a card to his girlfriend as a teenager, to the death of close relatives when 'wish you were here' would mean things would have been different but decidedly better, relatives running away without a backward glance leaving those behind 'wishing you were here' to 'wish you weren't here' or 'wish I wasn't here' and themes of suicide.
The tragic history of the Luxtons and the neighbouring farmer and his daughter makes this almost seem a Thomas Hardian, Tess of the D'Ubervilles book about the impossibilty of avoiding your fate. It has the same depressing tone of Jude the Obscure. In this book generations of Luxtons already having died through gunfire and war. Relationships between brothers, sons and fathers, neighbouring farmers in rural farming Devon are realistically and quietly explored.
Events and characters unfold and the honest and sometimes uncomfortable minutiae of life builds beautifully. The awkwardness of funerals is wonderfully captured. Jack emerges as a really conflicted character and the military theme and imagery which pervade the book capture the modern day conflicts surrounding us in a melancholy rather than judgemental way.
Your reading experience may be enhanced if you read it on a caravan holiday(caravans are another recurring theme) and have some knowledge of UK rural Devon and the farming crisis (but not a second home in Devon).
It's a haunting, melancholy read which has stayed with me so I can see why others find it excellent. I think perhaps I'm just not the target audience.

A Monster Calls
A Monster Calls
by Patrick Ness
Edition: Hardcover
24 used & new from $1.66

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spooky, wise and tearjearking, June 12, 2011
This review is from: A Monster Calls (Hardcover)
This hardback edition is stunningly illustrated with stark black and white drawings encroaching on the book. On some pages the text is white against the dark drawings and occasionally the drawings are the story and make you gasp as you turn the page. Midnight blue under the dustjacket and the beginning and end pages littered with yew tree needles add an amazingly spooky feel.
It's a really accessible teenage book - short and easy to read over the course of a few hours. Excellent for reluctant readers but packs a huge amount into 215 pages.
The story of thirteen year old Conor and his Monsters is amazingly crafted. Very reminiscent of a Christmas Carol with a monster calling and telling three stories. Conor has to tell the fourth. In the background Conor's mum is fighting her own battle with cancer as Conor deals with this violent, ancient yet wise monster.
The book mixes fairy tale and modern teenage issues in a realistic way. It's fantastical and real and deals with some difficult issues such as cancer, bullying, absent parents, annoying teachers and even more annoying Grandmas. The main powerhouse of a theme though and the shadow in the background is bereavement and the emotions involved with living with a loved one who's dying. This book is explores emotions children may be having when a close family member is dying and the way other adults and their peers relate to them when their reality becomes surreal. I think it would be a comfort to any teenager dealing with these issues.
If you liked this book and the ancient fairytale meets difficult teenage reality theme then I suggest looking at Riding Icarus.

Rhyming Rabbit
Rhyming Rabbit
by Julia Donaldson
Edition: Hardcover
42 used & new from $0.77

5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous, June 12, 2011
This review is from: Rhyming Rabbit (Hardcover)
The Rhyming Rabbit is a brilliant tale of an unappreciated rabbit who'd rather make up poems and songs than eat grass, run from foxes or sleep. His warren family are exasperated with him so he digs a tunnel and sets off on his own adventure. He's rebuffed by a worm, mole and a very rude centipede but eventually the rhyming rabbit finds a like minded friend.
It's a wonderful tale of finding friendship. It's aimed at a slightly more mature child than 'What the Ladybird Heard' while still having the rhymes and raised glitter to entertain younger children. There are raised glittery wriggly worms, bones, treasure, beetles and lots more to discover.
There's a lot of text in this large sized hardback book and some fabulous Lydia Monks drawing and collage illustrations.
Very entertaining and well worth adding to your book collection.

King of the Badgers
King of the Badgers
by Philip Hensher
Edition: Hardcover
24 used & new from $0.01

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!, June 12, 2011
This review is from: King of the Badgers (Hardcover)
I really liked the Northern Clemency (I gave it 4 stars) although it was a bit like wading through 700+ pages of hypnotic, literary treacle but this is an absolutely superb book. The King of the Badgers manages to be meandering and completely compelling with a colourful cast of characters from all generations. There's a main suspense filled plot combined with some beautiful writing. It's a fantastic read.

The first thing I did before buying this book was to check how many pages it was and I was relieved it was advertised as 300 pages. I wanted to read a few books on holiday and not be bogged down with one huge novel. However the description is wrong. There are 436 pages in this hardback copy so it may be somewhere in between the slim novel and whale killing edition you're expecting.

There are 3 distinct parts to the book. The first third is most comparable to the Northern Clemency. There are the usual acute observations of behind closed doors family life but in this case the doors are flung wide open with an 8 year old girl China going missing, Shannon Matthews style. The mother is hilariously photographed holding a 'Where is China?' sign. It is perhaps the least compelling part of the book observing the police and press conferences and there is nothing to like or hold your interest about tragic China's family. It felt like the least involving, couldn't really be that concerned about them, parts of the Northern Clemency.

It's set in the modern day fictional North Devon town of Hanmouth. The time line is fairly short so thankfully it's not an epic trawl through the decades.

The quick 'insert here a paragraph' story snippets of political info were a little lecturing and grating e.g. did you know in the UK your DNA is kept on file for ever after minor offences and how the historic age of homosexual consent has left some people on the same registers as paedophiles. Which is awful when it comes to the police knocking on doors of local sex offenders when children go missing.

The book takes off in parts 2 and 3 with a shocking short chapter between the two. It's completely compelling and surpasses any of the characters, complexity and writing in the Northern Clemency. I can't think of anything to criticise. It's genius. It's moving and shocking at times plus has a wonderful party scene which surpasses the similar one in the Northern Clemency. Imagine the London gay scene attending an awkward 'meet the neighbours' house warming party. Old ladies, lap dogs and all. It's nicely contrasted with the gay orgy happening later down the road. Absolutely hilarious.

The humour is more apparent in this book or perhaps not hidden behind so much treacle. Even the final dramatic conclusion has some humour injected. There are some hilarious scenes in a fictional Barnstaple University where one lecturer says what she really thinks to her lazy students and bosses. In parts two and three you do care about the diverse characters and they are fantastic from the awful teenager Hettie who amongst her many teenage faults is homophobic to the gay misfit David and his almost boyfriend Mauro. The Hanmouth locals are also deliciously absurd and memorable. Eccentric, with a finger in everything happening in Hanmouth, Mr Calvin and his neighbourhood watch for one are very funny. One of the oldest characters Billa ends up doing a few memorable things too.

Very highly recommended. I remember writing in my Northern Clemency review that I thought a compelling rather than meandering story would be +5 star material from this author. This book has surpassed my expecations. It's meandering and compelling with characters that will stay with you a long time. Genius.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 24, 2011 9:24 AM PDT

Catch Your Death
Catch Your Death

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant., May 17, 2011
This review is from: Catch Your Death (Kindle Edition)
I literally couldn't put this e-book down. There's a steam train of a plot with two brilliant central characters, Kate and Paul, on the hunt for the truth but simultaneously being chased by an outstanding monster of a villian who is utterly terrifying. When he rings your doorbell you'd better hide as it's impossible to tell which twisted direction he'll take. Intrigue and twists come thick and fast. I thought I could see what was coming next but I was wrong at every turn.
The story is original and believable and ratchets up the tension as Kate's son becomes a pawn in the game.
There's a history and depth to the story linking back to 1990 when student Kate was a guinea pig in UK common cold research. Returning to the UK from Boston, 15 years later she comes to discover not all was as it seemed and the fire which destroyed the research unit and landed her in hospital was far more sinister than she could ever imagine. Kate's family dynamics are also wonderfully complicated with her growing attraction for the brother of her first love and her outraged new ex from the US chasing her across the UK for custody of her son as he realises Kate never intended to return.
Very highly recommended.

Price: $3.71

5.0 out of 5 stars Show-Stoppingly Entertaining., May 14, 2011
This is a really entertaining story packed with twists, action and intrigue. Parts of it are absolutely filthy (the author wasn't joking with his explicit warning) but even the filth is well written. Nothing cringe worthy at all. The story is shown from the two perspectives of Debra and Rachel, a normal couple in many ways but they have dealings with werewolves, pteranodons, secret government agencies, the supernatural world and other dimensions which are invading our reality. Lots of it was really funny and reminded me of Janet Evanovich mixed with comic book heroines and Dr Who. Juxaposed to the science fiction is the everyday life of dealing with parents, in-laws and exes which is just as difficult and funny as dealing with a pteranodon about to eat a prince off the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
One of the women is described as being even thinner than Halle Berry. Just skin and bones then I'm presuming but despite their frail appearance this women do literally kick ( 3 letter word not allowed by Amazon filters) and attempt to save the world and themselves.
There is another realated story at the end of the book which follows on from the main tale. On kindle this means the book finishes around 75%.
Highly recommended as an extremely well written, hugely entertaining kindle book. I think the boring cover photo needs some Warhol treatment to match the amazingly colourful contents within.

Octonauts and the Whale Shark
Octonauts and the Whale Shark
by Simon & Schuster
Edition: Paperback
68 used & new from $0.01

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Swallowed by a Whale Shark!, April 18, 2011
This is a fabulous book to read to young children. Very competent under 8s might be able to read it unaided if they are used to the names in the series. There's lots of fun text, some brilliant characters and eye catching, bright illustrations with lots of detail.
In this story the explore, rescue and protect Octonauts have to rescue Dashi from the cave she's exploring which turns out to be the inside of a whale shark. There are fact boxes dotted around which e.g. explain what a filter feeder is and what gills do.
I'm very impressed at how educational this book is while still being very entertaining. Much better than most childrens TV tie-in titles.
Highly recommended.

Killing Cupid
Killing Cupid

5.0 out of 5 stars Very Funny and Hilariously Twisted, April 16, 2011
This review is from: Killing Cupid (Kindle Edition)
This book is a very funny look at a young, not completely mad, stalker Alex and the slightly older, totally together, object of his desires Siobhan. Told from their two viewpoints it moves from one hilarious scene to another with some authentic high drama and kitchen sink angst thrown in for good measure. There's a lot of visual action in a people falling out of trains, car crash kind of way which meant sometimes it seemed made more for TV than for a reader. People fly off the handle a bit, bump into each other and have 'oh look what I've spotted through that window moments' to express shock and surprise at. Characters like a recurring older tennis partner would work better on screen but it's still very funny. There are some laugh out loud moments.

The main male character initally works at a book selling/reviewing site like Amazon (well a thinly veiled version of it) which is hilarious especially if you've been sucked into this wierd world of reviewing. I sympathised with how temporarily insane it makes you... He attends an evening writing class for aspiring authors and falls for his teacher. His review of her book and her reaction to it are fabulous. The diverse group of people brought together in writing class are amusing.

It does start to get a little slow when the straightforward stalker story seems to be politely resolving, no one gets too distraught or phones the police but then the plot spins 180 degrees and it becomes completely compelling as the tables are turned. Everything becomes chaotic and really mad.

Fun read. Hope it turns into a film. Highly recommended especially for $1.13.

I will be buying more books from these authors.

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