Monthly Archives: February 2012

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The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

When Mara Dyer wakes up in hospital with no memory of how she got there, or any explanation as to why the bizarre accident that caused the death of her boyfriend and two best friends left her mysteriously unharmed, her doctors suggest she start over in anew city, at a new school, and just hope her memories gradually come back.

But Mara’s new start is anything but comforting. She sees the faces of her dead friends everywhere and now she’s started to see other people’s deaths before they happen. Is she going crazy? As if dealing with this isn’t enough, Noah Shaw, the most beautiful boy she’s ever seen, can’t seem to leave her alone. But does he have her best interest at heart, or another agenda altogether.

When I was a child (many years ago now) one year my family and I went on holiday to a camp site on the bank of a river. I was swimming one afternoon when a slow current caught me, I was a fair distance down river when I finally noticed what was happening I was unable to swim strongly enough against the current and was helpless in its grip. Reading The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer was like that, I was reading lazily and all of a sudden I was gripped and unable to put it down, and unlike my episode in the river, there was no-one that plunged in to drag me back to the bank.

I must admit that I judged this book by its cover! When I saw it at the Simon and Schuster offices I thought oooh pretty! and was fortunate enough to wheedle a copy, the cover of Mara Dyer is one that I would have liked to have had as a poster when I was a teenager. Usually with most of the books I have read, the cover image has had something to do with the story but the only connection is the ethereal, otherworldly style that suffuses the story.

I can honestly say that I was very confused throughout the entire novel, trying to figure out if it was a paranormal tale or not. Even at the end when things are supposed to become clearer as to what was going on it left me guessing!

I will say that my confusion and inability to work out if what was happening was real or in her head in no way impacted on my enjoyment.

I do know for a fact that I will be picking up volume two so I can find out what happens next!

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is a beautiful novel that reads like a dream!

The Week of Woo!

The Week of Woo a celebration of all things John Green by Hot Key Press.

In their own words:

What is this all about?

We love John Green’s books.
At the moment, his latest book The Fault in our Stars is only being imported from the US. We want all his books to be properly looked after by a British publisher who is committed to bringing him over to the UK to meet Nerdfighters on tour.

So, we have planned this Week of Woo to show him how much we care.

We’d love other UK Nerdfighters help…

Please tweet messages to @realjohngreen with #DFTBAintheUK and the link to this page

Got more time? Post a British-themed happy dance video on our YouTube, Twitter or Tumblr, or a vlog with you/ your friends/ large groups of people saying “DFTBAintheUK”.

STAY TUNED for daily updates, more giggles, punishments and perhaps a contest to come…

Who are we?

See our blog…

See our ‘Why Hot Key Books Doesn’t Suck’ manifesto

What’s a Nerdfighter? What’s DFTBA?

The best people to explain this are John and Hank Green!

DFTBA stands for what Her Majesty so sagely said: “Don’t Forget to be Awesome”.

Teen Librarian Monthly February 2012

The latest edition of Teen Librarian Monthly is now available for download: tlmfebruary2012

Gypsies, Nerdfighters, an open-source ebook creator and an interview with Jane Prowse all in this edition!

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?

R.J. Palacio made me cry!*

That is all I need to say really, in Wonder I have found a story that made me laugh, it made me cry and it made me feel more for any fictional characters than I have for years.

Auggie’s story is told from his perspective and also the perspectives of those around him – his sister, his friends, his sister’s boyfriend and others. This works extremely well, as we obtain a bigger picture than we would if the story was told from Auggie’s perspective alone.

Wonder is a story about individuals, about families, friendship but mostly (I think) it is a book about seeing and understanding.

There have been many books written about vampires, werewolves, the undead and future worlds with characters fighting to survive, but none of these stories can compare to the horror of being a child and being different amongst other children.

I cannot write a long review, I mean I could but I won’t, I love the story, I love the characters and their development over the course of fifth grade and 313 pages. It would have been so easy to make this story grim and miserable, instead R.J. Palacio has woven a tale shot through with humour, bravery, loss and acceptance (also Star Wars, lots and lots of Star Wars!)

I urge everyone that reads this to believe me when I say that you should read this book – buy it, borrow it from your local library – if your library does not have it order it so they do and once you have read it make sure that other people you know read it too!

Wonder is now my favourite book of 2012!

* Pages 204 & 221

Oliver Twisted by J.D. Sharpe (and Charles Dickens)

“Flesh,” the woe-begotten moaned at Oliver, baring teeth which were ragged and black. “Flesh” came another moan, and he turned to see two more behind. They began to shuffle towards him, barefoot. The world according to Oliver Twisted is simple. Vampyres feed on the defenceless, orphans are sacrificed to hungry gods and if a woe-begotten catches your scent it will hunt you forever. On the advice of a corpse, Oliver flees his ghastly orphan life to seek his destiny in the dark streets of old London Town, despite the perils of the woe-begotten zombie-infested journey. There he meets the shadowy Dodger, the evil old soul-stealer Fagin, and the menacing Bill Sikes, who is more beast than man. But will Oliver Twisted be the world’s salvation, or its downfall?!

I am a fan of the original Oliver Twist but it has been replaced in my affections by Oliver Twisted. If I am brutally honest the whole literary classic/horror mash-up genre was getting a little tired for me, I had enjoyed some of them but on the whole I thought it had pretty much run its course. Then I was sent a copy of Oliver Twisted, I was planning on purchasing myself a copy, but when Egmont contacted me offering a review copy I said a big YES PLEASE! (I have no shame) When it arrived I was immediately impressed by the cover and the tag line – Please Sir I want some GORE! I am (as those that know me are aware) a fan of puns, the more groan-worthy the better. Then I started reading.

Oliver Twisted is no mere mash-up! This is the Buffy-verse version of Oliver Twist! Hell has vomited up its damned souls; they now roam the earth as the woebegone – which is the best euphemism for zombies that I have ever come across.
But that is not all, there are demons, witches, were-beasts and young Oliver, born in the poorhouse under a prophecy that proclaims him as the saviour of mankind… or the tool of its eventual destruction!

Stir in a satanic conspiracy bent on the overthrow of mankind, a devious soul-eater that runs a gang of young thieves, a vicious werewolf and young Oliver who is abandoned, betrayed and alone, an innocent soul that although unwilling to do wrong is often consumed by a rage that threatens to consume him.

All is not dark and evil in this world, there are the Knights of Nostradamus, a secret organisation pledged to overturn the world order and return mankind to the light, but they are few and beset on all sides…

You do not need to have read Oliver Twist to enjoy this book but it will heighten your enjoyment to see how subtly the originals have been turned with the addition of a world overrun by supernatural phenomena.