Black Swan Green is stories from one year in the life of a thirteen year old boy, in an English village during the early 80s. It’s about the common and peculiar trials of being a thirteen year old boy, friendship, family relationships, music, politics, poetry and truth, love and loyalty. It’s funny, clever, moving, sad, joyful, and with the special delight for the regular reader of David Mitchell books, the characters from his other books. He is one of my very favourite authors.
A story that reimagines the beginning of the little mermaid story, full of friendship (love), revenge and magic. The pace builds throughout the story, making the second half of the story more enjoyable.
Catching Teller Crow is a thoroughly beautiful, captivating book. It’s a detective story, a ghost story, and an uplifting book about meaning, the power of our life stories, grief, Australia’s shameful history, and strength, particularly that of Aboriginal girls and women.
One thing you can usually count on a YA series for, is a super fast pace. I raced through Divergent, which was silly in many ways, but compelling and lots of fun. I found Carve the Mark boring, for the most part, with small flashes of action or feeling, but ultimately it went nowhere exciting, and took forever to get there. Cyra and Akos are from two enemy races living on the one planet. Their fates and coincidentally compatible “current gifts” bring them together, and a little bit of confusing action, some unexciting romance, and not a lot else ensues. I may read the next book for closure, but I may not.
The Hate U Give is a really powerful book about the value of every life. One night, two black teenagers in the US, are pulled over by police, and one of them is shot dead. Even from the other side of the world, this is a familiar story, and this book does a great job of showing the impact of these events on the community, and society. The characters are well drawn, the complexity of the situation is well handled, and the book is as compelling as it is thought-provoking.
Cloudwish is the story of a girl whose parents came to Australia by boat, after the fall of Saigon. She has a scholarship to a fancy, private school in Melbourne, and tries to find her own space in two different worlds. There’s lots of typical, coming of age issues, but also plenty of diversity, a hint of magic, a sweetly complicated romance and Jane Eyre; a lot to like about this book.
This is cute, but not cutesy , feel-good YA. It’s about a teenaged girl named Willowdean, who lives in small town Texas and happens to be fat. She and a few other unlikely girls decide to enter the town’s great event, a beauty pageant. The setting is great, the characters are diverse, and interesting, the angst is believable and not overdone, and the romance is sweet. There aren’t a lot of body positive books out there; this is one, and it’s also a fun read.
Howling Books is a second hand bookshop, with a collection of books for people to leave letters in. Rachel comes back to town and starts working there, with the boy she used to love. This is young adult fiction, with an Australian setting, references to so many books, sweet and complicated relationships, and not too much teenage angst. It’s about loss, connection and the power of books. There’s a lot to like.
It has been a long time since I read His Dark Materials, and I very much enjoyed my time back in Pullman’s Brytain. A curious and thoughtful young boy lives with his parents, in a pub outside Oxford, but as he becomes involved in the life of baby Lyra, he must make a dangerous journey. It’s a magical world, in many senses, and the journey is delightful, frightening, heart-wrenching and full of wonder. I do hope we don’t have to wait too long for the next instalment.
Dimple and Rishi are Indian-American teens whose parents think should get married, and they meet for the first time at a University’s summer program. It’s a sweet love story, with really interesting cultural detail, a little predictable, and sometimes silly, but a quick, fun, read.