Category Archives: Ya

Mondays are Murder: The Long Weekend by Savita Kalhan

Sam knows that he and his friend Lloyd made a colossal mistake when they accepted the ride home.

They have ended up in a dark mansion in the middle of nowhere with man who means to harm them. But Sam doesn’t know how to get them out.

They were trapped, then separated.

Now they are alone.

Will either of them get out alive?
I may have to speak to my lawyer!  Savita Kalhan has TRAUMATISED me!  She lured me in with the offer of a free (signed) copy on twitter and fool that I am I took her up on it .  
 When it arrived I looked at it and thought oooh! Pretty and creepy!  So very creepy-looking!
The Long Weekend is a fairly short book – 180 pages in length – oh good I thought!  Quick and easy – I need a book like that!

Then I made the mistake of reading it! 

It is quite possibly one of the most gripping abduction, escape and chase novels for young people that I have ever read!  The prose is very tight, there is not an inch of wasted text!
Sam is an amazing hero, he is a smart kid but he is just 11 years of age – same age as my nephew and sounds like him a bit as well! 
He realises that he is no Alex Rider as he engages in a terror filled game of cat and mouse in and around the house where he and his friend are trapped. There are no heroics, just a desperate struggle to stay hidden to remain alive.
I loved The Long Weekend it left me breathless – there were several sections where I discovered that I was holding my breath waiting for something terrible to happen. The building sense of dread compelled me to keep reading and as the book neared its end I realised that I had no idea what was going to happen, I had a sick sense of horror in my stomach as the page count diminished and I can honestly say that I was kept guessing until the very end.
It has probably been said before that this story is every parent or guardian’s worst nightmare!
I still feel twitchy even now, I have put the book on my shelf where it is safely away from me!  I fear that I may have nightmares about the worst that humanity has to offer and a little boy who wants to go home.
Five stars for a riveting story!

The fact that I finished The Long Weekend at the end of another long weekend is fitting and totally unintentional.

Many thanks to Savita for the book – it has a special place on my bookshelf of awesome YA books.

The Girl Who Was on FIre

Sarah Rees Brennan asks: Why are readers so hungry for the Hunger Games?
Carrie Ryan looks at how the Gamemakers shape the truth for television.
Jennifer Lynn Barnes rejects both sides of the series’ love triangle and declares herself Team Katniss.
Does real-life media training look anything like Katniss’?  Ned Vizzini says yes.

Who holds the real power in Panem

Trauma and recovery among Hunger Games survivors

Muttations in the real world

What the rebellion has in common with the War on Terror

The Girl Who Was on Fire answers lingering questions, provides new points of view, and will remind every Hunger Games fan why they love the series in the first place.

Having read The Hunger Games trilogy twice I was getting itchy to return to Panem for a third time when I heard that they were making a movie.  My heart leapt for joy as I have a fondness for dystopias.  My heart was still go-going in my chest when I bumped into a competition being run by Smart Pop Books – pay them a visit – they have some amazing things on their site!

Anyway to cut a long story short I won a copy of The Girl Who Was on Fire, which is a collection of essays by some of the best and brightest YA authors. They are (in no particular order): Leah Wilson, Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Mary Borsellino, Elizabeth M. Rees, Lili Wilkinson, Ned Vizzini, Carrie Ryan, Cara Lockwood, Terri Clark, Blythe Woolston, Sarah Darer Littman, Adrienne Kress, Bree Despain

Reviewing a collection of essays is not the easiest thing in the world, with a novel you can give a brief synopsis and write about the story structure, characters and all the good stuff the story holds but in such a way so as not to give it all away and make the review reader want to go out and buy or at the very least borrow the book.

It is slightly more complicated with an essay collection (at least for me).  SO I will just say that the essays are witty, thought-provoking, deep and above-all readable.  They can be used for personal enjoyment but also for group discussion and sharing.

The blurb on the back cover says it perfectly:

In The Girl Who Was on Fire, thirteen YA authors take you back to Panem with moving, dark, and funny pieces on Katniss, the Games, Gale and Peeta, reality TV, survival, and more.

Go on!  Grab a copy! join some of the best-known authors of YA fiction (and maybe even discover some new ones) and be taken back into Panem and The Hunger Games.

A book for everyone who is, was or has ever wondered what it is like to be a 15 year old boy!

One seriously messed up week…

… in the Otherwise Mundane & Uneventful Life of Sam Taylor JACK SAMSONITE

Our hero? 
Jack Samsonite
His mission?
1.  pass his GCSEs
2.  get the girl (to notice he exists)
3.  survive the week without a serious face punching 
 Good thing he’s got a plan. Well, half a plan… 

One seriously messed-up week in the otherwise mundane & uneventful life of Jack Samsonite is being billed as a cross between Adrian Mole meets The Inbetweeners. It is also the only book I have had to stop reading on the underground as I was laughing too much in between cringing at the memories of my teenage years it was dredging up. I am seriously in awe of Tom Clempson, the man is a genius with the pen!  He has captured the awkwardness and uncertainty of being a teenage boy perfectly, combining crudity, romance, confusion, lust, friendship and the desire to get through the day without being bullied into the package of Jack Samsonite.

Warts and all protagonists of the male variety appear to be rare in YA fiction, it started with Adrian Mole in the ’80’s and then there was not much.  It is quite possible that we are witnessiong hte birth of a new trend in YA fiction.  The story is told in the form of a diary written as a school project. It begins with an introduction which was written at the end of the week, so I knew where Jack ended up but as someone once said “Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity, but in doing it!”

The story starts on a Monday – with nob ache. Which, if I remember my teen years correctly, (and believe me there is not a man alive that does not – no matter what we may say. We remember every embarrassing moment clearly) is how many days start for boys in their teens. 
Read this book, gain some insight into the mind of a teenage boy and perhaps you will even sympathise with them the next time one of them really pisses you off for just being a teenI read it and loved it (unconditionally) for the laughs, the angst and the cringe-worthy memories it evoked. I was Jack without being cool but then most of us were in those days.