Archive for August, 2011


I am totally in love with this new series by Alan Bradley! The Flavia de Luce Mysteries should be everyone’s top reads or next book to read list.

Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is the first in the series, which is very reminiscent of an Agatha Christie Miss Marple mystery.  Set in 1950 in a small quintessential English village, Flavia, our almost 11 year old heroine and budding chemist complete with her own lab, lives in a large, ramshackle mansion with her reclusive, philatelist father, two older sisters (who she routinely plots to poison as retribution for continually tormenting her) and her father’s batman from the war who now acts as the family butler/gardener/gofer and Flavia’s confidant.

Bradley draws a wonderfully recognisable cast of characters that make up the villagers and inevitable policemen who in equal parts help and hinder Flavia’s crime solving prowess.  Flavia is the first truly original character I’ve discovered in a long time.  You will fall in love her and want to join her on her journey to solve the murder.

And once you have reluctantly reached the last page, you will want to immediately reach for the next books in the series, The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag and A Red Herring without Mustard. Me, I’m impatiently awaiting the release of Flavia #4 I am Half-Sick of Shadows.

New Zealand-based author Michael Green has hit a winner here with the first book in a trilogy about a family whose descendants are the only people to survive a fatal flu virus that sweeps the world.  In Bloodline the Chatfield family appear to be the only people in the entire world to have avoided the 100% fatal pandemic that surges around the world before any cure can be found.  However, this does not become the utopia you might think.  More in line with the old adage “you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your relations”. I’m betting if you were in certain branches of the Chatfield family, you would be more comfortable with the friends option.

Green has developed a fast-paced, well-written tale with enough twists and turns to keep you turning the pages and by the end, wanting the next in the series.

 

I was really taken with David Nicholl’s screenplay, adapted from his novel Starter for Ten and have also enjoyed his work on the scripts for the movie And When did you Last See Your Father as well as the Shakespeare Retold: Much Ado about Nothing so I was intrigued enough to give his novel One Day a try.

This has also now been adapted to the big screen, which I will no doubt have to see.  The premise of One Day is following the development of a friendship between two people, Emma and Dexter,  with a snapshot of them both on the same day over the course of 20 years, beginning as they both graduate from university in Scotland in 1988.

I developed a love-hate relationship with this book.  On one hand I was really taken with it and the quirkyness of the plot, but on the other hand I was frustrated by “will they, won’t they” turmoil.  However, that said, this has more to do with me and my expectations than it does with David Nicholls’ well-written novel.  If you like character-driven stories with believeable actions and reactions then I would confidently recommend it to you. I am about to head to my local public library to get a copy of Starter for Ten. 

For more on  David Nicholls take a look at his website http://www.davidnichollswriter.com/home.

I particularly like Emma Morley’s mix tape!

 

Imagine the Gulf Coast of America, somewhere in the near future, where the ravages of hurricanes, the like of which we’ve never experienced is now the norm. Oil is so scarce there is no longer a need for oil tankers and they are now just left abandoned at the mercy of the scavenger crews that inhabit the area.

Now imagine a crew of children, small enough to fit through the service ducts in these hulking ships, who are sent into the bowels to strip the copper wire, which can then be sold for top dollar on the black market, and who are then discarded when they become too big to do the dark, dirty and dangerous work.

In Ship Breaker, Paolo Bacigalupi provides just such a setting for his first foray into young adult literature.  This, however is not just a novel for young people.  It is well written, attested to by being a US National Book Award finalist and the winner of the Michael L. Printz award and is a complex tale of the haves and the have-nots and what people will do to get what they want.

Through the main character of Nailer, a teenage boy with no mother and a violently addicted father, his interactions with others, his quest to better himself and the choices he makes along the way speaks about the human condition and what we would be capable of, if pushed.

Read it.  You won’t regret it.

And then if you want to know more about this talented author, you might like to read an interview with him in YALSA – The Hub, your connection to teen reads from March of this year. http://www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/2011/03/25/author-interview-paolo-bacigalupi/

Will Lavender is a real find.  In his debut novel Obedience, Lavender has managed to nail that most difficult of genres, the psychological thriller.  It is a particularly well crafted, intriguing tale and you are quickly drawn into the challenge set of the main characters – to solve the hypothetical disappearance of a young woman as their fall assignment in their university course Logic and Reasoning 204.  As the clues are dangled and it becomes obvious that things – and people – aren’t what they seem, three of the students stumble upon a real-life, unsolved disappearance which has strikingly similar facts to the so-called scenario they have been set by their professor.

Just when you think you know what’s happening, Lavender tilts everything on it’s axis and you have to go back to your mental drawing board.  This fast-paced thriller is a stunning read and would easily lend itself to being adapted into a fine movie script.  I could almost visualise it as I read it.  On finishing this novel, I immediately searched for his next and fortunately I wasn’t disappointed.  His second offering was published last month and the synopsis for Dominance holds much promise.  I already have a reserve on the ordered copy at my local public library and I am anticipating the email to tell me it’s ready to collect.  Can’t wait!  In the meantime, get your hands on a copy of Obedience.  You won’t be sorry.

Want to know more? http://willlavender.com/books.php