Book Trailer

Sparrow by Scot Gardner

SparrowOne of the best books I’ve read this year! Scot Gardner is one of my favourite authors, he gets teenagers and he writes them well. This one is particularly good. It is the story of a boy called Sparrow, it takes place in dual time settings, beginning on an uninhabited island where he has washed up after his ship sinks, this island is far from idyllic, there are terrible creatures everywhere all of which want to hurt (or even eat) him. We also meet Sparrow before this happens when he is living on the street, helping out in cafes to try and get free food to keep himself from starving. We begin to find out how he ended up in this situation and there is nothing good about his past life. He has been abused, mistreated, lied to and abandoned. Despite all this Sparrow is loveable and kind to others.

Sparrow’s journey from abandoned urchin to imprisoned youth is gripping. I fell in love with him from the very first sentence and I cried at some of the appalling things that happened to him. Sparrow’s relationship with the cafe people is wonderfully written, very realistic, full of pathos and at times raw and edgy.

If you are looking for books for teenage boys just head out and buy all of his books for them. They are properly real and beautifully constructed, but their real beauty is in the characters of realistic boys who deal with the crap life throws at them in amazing ways. A real contender for my YA book of the year.

Below is Scot Gardner reading the first chapter.  You should definitely listen to it. Definitely!

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The Night Circus by Erin Morgernstern

Well first I discovered the website for this book.  Have a look here (you’ll have to sign in with a Facebook or Twiter account) and tell me you aren’t a little intrigued.  A friend of mine had read this book and just loved and adored it so I thought “best I give it a whirl”  The Night Circus is the result of a challenge, a long standing competition between two magicians.  In this case a young girl, Celia and Marco a young boy in the early days, rescued from the streets and trained to high levels of magicianship.  The two have studied, trained and honed their skills, which are then shown off in the Night circus.  The mysterious circus all in black and white which arrives in a town in the middle of the night and then after a few days, just as mysteriously disappears only to turn up in another location.

This is however a love story, Celia and Marco despite themselves, fall in love.  This is not in the plan!  They have a dilemma.  They compete for superiority of magic within the confines of the circus, the performers and the public love the circus and don’t want it threatened, and yet there must be a winner in the competition of skill which will probably lead to the destruction of the circus.

It is a lyrical book, magic and imagination run wild in it.  I found myself liking it instantly but then getting a bit bogged down in the details in the middle, I put it down, wandered off reading something else for a bit, then came back to it and polished it off in an afternoon.  It is a gorgeous story, full of the mystical and mysterious and if you are looking for that in a book then this is bound to be a treat.  My favourite characters were the twins and Bailey.  Read it to find out who they are.  Book trailer below.

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

I’m doing a crosspost here, this is also posted on the school blog.  This book is so aptly named.  It is a wondrously beautiful book.  It is big, it is beautifully designed and it contains a really well crafted story, both in words and in pictures.  Wonderstruck is one of those books which will appeal to lots of people for lots of different reasons.  If you read books for a great story this book has one.  If you love art, drawing and design, this book has loads to offer you.  If you think books are things to be treasured then Wonderstruck is certainly one which people will want to treasure.  It is a book to buy as a present, it is a book to own.  But first you might want to borrow it from the library.  The first book by Brian Selznick is a poor battered thing in our library because it has been so widely read over the years.  There is a blog post about it here.

Wonderstruck is two stories, one told in pictures and one told with words.  It is the story of a young girl living in New York who runs away from home, and it is also the story of a young boy 50 years later in a small lakeside town.  You know that somehow the two stories will connect and when they do it is a moment of wonder.

Below is a video of the author, walking around inside the incredibly detailed drawings from the book.  This author is truly one of the great authors for young people today and I hope lots of our students pick up the book and take it home and spend time in the world of Wonderstruck.

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

I am a sucker for a concept novel.  I like novels around a theme, with extra bits and pieces, with added online content, it it has bells and whistles, quirky goodness, tricky little gizmos, I’m going to buy it.  This does not always guarantee an excellent read!  I have spent a vast fortune – well a small fortune – buying the book with the awesome cover, just because it had an awesome cover.  That folks is why I bought this book.  Oh but it was a gooden, yay!

Filled with weird old photos of children who were the residents of a home for ‘peculiar’ children, this book is the story of Jacob’s Jewish Grandfather, and Jacob’s search for the truth behind his death, the dreams that plague him, the bizarre sight he saw as his beloved Grandfather lay dying in his arms.  Jacob is on a quest for the truth.  The truth it turns out is very scary, very hard to believe – in short very peculiar.  The photographs sit alongside the story, helping you to visualise the peculiar children and their very peculiar attributes.  I’m not giving more away than this for fear of ruining the surprises.

This book kept me up until 1am last night.  I just had to get to the end and find out what happened to Miss Peregrine and what decisions Jacob would make.  I was hooked from page 1 and basically did nothing else yesterday but read this book.  It is a cross-over novel, fits nicely into Young Adult or Adult and is a treat book.  Lovely!  Book trailer below.

Room by Emma Donoghue

It has taken a bit of mulling over this book.  It is so cleverly done that it seems simplistic, but it really isn’t.  Not in the least.  This book is told through the eyes of a five year old boy who has been cooped up in a room (the Room of the title) for all his short life.  His mother was kidnapped at the age of 19 and has not been out of the room since then, her kidnapper visits at night to take what he feels is rightfully his and he hasn’t seen the child since he was a small baby.  An impressive feat on behalf of the mother who has set up a bed in a wardrobe for the child and has kept the child and the father completely apart despite the confines of the tiny space they live in.

Jack (the child) is comfortable in his world, understands his world and his Ma has nurtured, loved and taken care to teach him all she knows without him even realising that the world outside is not just on the television he is allowed to watch from time to time.  Jack’s view of the outside world is one of the most fascinating things about the book, but there are plenty of other wonderful and insightful things that this author has done.  The naming of things, the concept of ‘The Sunday Treat’, the subtle hints along the way that Ma is realising what the future trapped in this tiny space will mean.

This book is one of those books which people find it hard to discuss with those who haven’t read it.  You don’t want to give too much away.  You want to encourage everyone you know to read it.  You need others who have read it to chat with and discuss lots of the issues the book raises.   It is a tricky thing, I don’t want anybody who hasn’t read the book to have an inkling of what the two characters in the book will have happen to them.  So really, if you haven’t read it then get hold of a copy and devour it in a day or so like I did, then spend a week with it haunting you.   Below is the publishers book trailer.

The passage by Justin Cronin

This is one of those books which is huge, enormous and epic and which takes over your life until you have made it through the 900 odd pages.  If you decide to embark on this journey you should be warned that you will achieve absolutely nothing else until it is done.  Housework – on hold, cooking – on hold, contact with friends – on hold, sleep – also on hold.  Gripping, creepy and compelling.  It was a jolly good job that it was school holidays when I was reading this!

Scientists investigating a mysterious illness in South America unwittingly unleash a nightmare virus which ultimately kills most of the world’s population and those that it doesn’t kill are turned into blood thirsty, evil vampirelike creatures.  These are not like vampires you’ve met before, no Twilight romantic notions of hot kids frolicking here.  They devour victims with alarming speed and are menacing and uneasy.  The book doesn’t dwell on them so much as the survivors.  It is the story of Amy, who is the key to everything,  A death row prisoner, one of those affected early and whose telekinetic powers compel others and not in a good way.  There is the FBI agent (my favourite character in the book) who cares for Amy and there are Sarah and her brother, she has recorded the history so that we can read about it.  It is the story of destruction and of people who are kind to each other, even if it might not be a comfortable choice, it is a story of family and love and evil.

This is the first book in what I hear is going to be a trilogy, and I can’t wait for the next one, there will be a movie – of course.  I really enjoyed it, I was gripped almost completely all the way through.  There are a couple of places where I thought we could have moved on a bit more quickly but really, it is an excellent read.  Anybody who liked Under the Dome will hook right into this.  Highly recommended – but put your life on hold while you read it.

A tiny bit marvellous by Dawn French

This is the book I most wanted for Christmas this year, and after some wrangling with the cherubs about who would be the lucky one to hand over the book of choice this year, the lovely Megan came to the party and this was her present to me.  I wanted to love love love this book, the first couple of pages had me hooked in immediately and the teenage girl who gets the opening chapter bore a remarkable similarity to teenage girls I have parented!  However, just like the real variety this one gets tiring very quickly.  The teenage boy who has adopted camp in the style of Oscar Wilde is amusing for a couple of chapters and then – whaddya know is also irritating.  The Mum of the book is it’s saving grace, along with the fabulous Grandmother, who was the one character where you could really see Dawn’s wit and clever way with words coming through, I loved the tea and sympathy, but especially the terrifically pointed comments she provided along with fabulous cakes.

I spend a lot of time in recent years saying “where is the editor?” when I am reading, and I think this book could have been infinitely better with the help of a big red ballpoint.  It is a constant frustration to me that so much ‘non story’ slips into the books I read.

This is a mid-life crisis, chick-lit-ish kind of book and obviously I am only the target market of the first, and chick-lit is just not for me, not enough action, too much navel gazing for me.  I really like Dawn French and I’m pleased I read the book, despite it’s faults and my rather ordinary attitude to it once I got to half way, I had to pour myself a large glass and lock myself away to finish the thing.   I am going to try the lovely sounding cake recipes at the end of the book.  Below is the promo for the book..