Welcome to the blog of the Tasmanian branch of the Children's Book Council of Australia!

Tuesday 5 February 2013

No vampires or fantasy or anything upsetting...

“I want to buy a book for my teenage niece” she said.  “No vampires or fantasy or anything upsetting.  Do you think Poor Man’s Orange would do?”  So if poverty, rape, attempted abortion, drunkenness, corruption, adultery and the Church are acceptable topics, she could try:

Maureen McCarthy The Convent (Allen & Unwin)
The story of four generations of women who were associated with the Abbotsford Convent.  McCarthy tells it as it was – no modern day disgust for the evils perpetrated by “the good sisters” in the name of the church. 

And for a church of a different kind:

Libba Bray The Diviners (Allen & Unwin)
Evie O'Neill, exiled from her hometown, has been sent to live in New York City with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies." New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, glamorous Ziegfeld girls and rakish pickpockets and occult-based murders.  A big book with many characters, whom we will hope to meet in the sequel.
(PS Libba Bray will be at the Reading Matters conference)

Assuming the niece has read Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy (Scholastic) and wants action, self-sufficiency, friendships, girl empowerment, she could read:

Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth (HarperCollins)
Society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue- Erudite, Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, and Amity. On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds, including Beatrice Prior, must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives.

Marie Lu Legend and Prodigy (Penguin)
June and Day are born into opposite sides of a war in a futuristic Los Angeles in the Republic of America. June is the military prodigy; Day is the “criminal” who supposedly killed June’s brother.

Veronica Rossi Under the Never Sky and Through the Ever Night (Atom)
Exiled from the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland, with cannibals, disease, mutated people, and violent storms, are slim. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He's wild - a savage - and her only hope of staying alive.

Laini Taylor Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Days of Blood and Starlight (Hachette)
An age old tale of forbidden love: Karou is a demon; Akiva is a Misbegotten and an angel.  They meet for the second time in the human world.  Perhaps Auntie should be aware that the second book has many days of blood and not much starlight.

Or maybe the niece enjoys retellings:

Marissa Meyer Cinder (Puffin)
First in the Lunar Chronicles series.  Cinder is a talented teenage mechanic and cyborg—part human, part robot—living in New Beijing with a demanding adoptive mother and two stepsisters.  Throw in the evil Lunar Queen Levana, the handsome Prince Kai, a plague and a secret Cinder doesn’t know  - the makings of a fairy tale with the breakneck speed of dystopian fiction. (The second in the Lunar chronicles, Scarlet, was released last week.)

Meg Cabot Abandon and Underworld (Macmillan)
Pierce Oliviera is in the Underworld, the place between heaven and hell where spirits gather before their final journey.  The Furies have tried to kill Pierce to hurt the gatekeeper of the Underworld, John Hayden.

Or maybe more contemporary realism stories would be more to her taste: 

Gayle Forman If I Stay and Where She Went (Random House)
Mia is in ICU, waiting to die. As the events from the car accident that killed her family unfold, she examines her relationships with everyone to determine whether or not it's worth staying.
Where she went is set three years later . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever. A study of grief, loss and forgiveness.
(PS Gayle Forman will be at the Reading Matters conference)

Megan Abbott Dare Me (Macmillan)
It was Keir Graff’s description of cheerleaders as “Spartan warriors with eating disorders.... cheerleading as blood sport... Shakespearean tragedy with friendship bracelets” that alerted me to Dare Me.  There is a death, there is a mystery, and everyone is implicated.  Beth is an unforgettable villain; Addy is her lieutenant.

Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate Eve and Adam (Random House)
Evening Spiker is recuperating in her mum's medical facility. She is healing at a remarkable rate, faster than physically possible. Joining forces with the hot lab assistant, Solo, she realises that things at Spiker Biotech are not quite as they seem.   Maybe not quite realism but it is an intriguing sci-fi novel touching on genetics.
Jesse Andrews Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Allen & Unwin)
Seventeen-year-old Greg is able to disappear at will into any social environment. He has only one friend, Earl.  They spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics. He is pushed by his mother into befriending Rachel, a leukaemia sufferer.  Greg’s lack of profundity, and the struggle to overcome it, makes this frequently hilarious and absolutely heartfelt debut profound.

And as dragons are real..... may I suggest?

Rachel Hartman Seraphina Random House
The 40 years of peace between human and dragon kingdoms is on the verge of collapse. Seraphina, a gifted court musician, wants only to go unnoticed; she is the unthinkable, a human-dragon half-breed, and her secret must be protected. But when Prince Lucian Kiggs asks for her help to investigate the murder of Prince Rufus, she has no choice but to become involved. The beginning of an exciting new series.

And auntie? – she chose Ruth Park’s Playing Beatie Bow (Penguin).

Nella Pickup

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