Awesome young adult books

Lips Touch: three times by Laini Taylor

Three stories about supernatural romance, strong female characters and the danger of kissing. The first story was the strongest in my opinion. Very visual storytelling, combined with literal visual storytelling as well because of graphic novel portions.

I really really liked the first story, which is about a girl being romanced by a goblin, and falling for him even though she should really know better. It was so Silver Kiss of the Magical Twilight of the Full Moon in the best way. The second story was neat, about a Victorian lady in India who makes a deal with a demon and one girl’s terrible curse. The third story was a bit hard to read, too much backstory for too many characters mashed up with present day stuff. It would have been stronger told chronologically I think. Great ideas in it, though, about demons who can ride around in humans.

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

A frighteningly convincing insight into the mind of a girl with anorexia. Her best friend, who has egged her on to be thin for years, dies before the book starts. Lia is in turmoil, she had fallen out with her best friend some months before and ignored the calls she received on the night she killed herself. The writing is compelling and it got me. I had to read this book very quickly because I found myself worrying about eating. Which, yeah, might mean it’s a really bad choice of book for some people. But I thought it was a startlingly good book.

Pretty Dead by Francesca Lia Block

I love FLB and I love stories about vampires. The two combined make Jenni happy. Francesca Lia Block’s writing is strange and magical, the inclusion of a lonely vampire in her version of LA seemed natural. It was a sad story, about love and death (as you would expect) but you did believe that the lead had learned enough in her long life to not want to be alive anymore.

Bonus extra kid’s book:

Wishing for Tomorrow
by Kathryn McKay

The sequel to A Little Princess, the classic children’s book. This story isn’t about Sara, it’s about Ermengarde and Lottie and the other girls left behind at Miss Minchin’s Select Seminary. It was lovely. McKay did a fine job of writing in the style of the original while moving their stories along.

It was like an old friend who tells you a new story. Comforting, familiar, warm and calming. I didn’t want to stop reading it. In fact, I wanted to read A Little Princess again and then read this again and then just be in a constant loop of Sara and Ermy and Miss Minchin’s. Good work Kathryn McKay.

I got all of these lovely books from the Wellington City Library. Tune in for my next batch soon!

Awesome Young Adult books

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.

The second book in the Hunger Games series. Just as dark, just as action packed, just as awesome. This author knows a thing or two about suspense and is insanely good at ratcheting up the horrific stakes. I can’t really go into details, except that its like reading an action movie. A really good action movie.

Kiss of Life by Daniel Waters.

The second one in the Generation Dead series. This one was overall sadder than the first, due to the stuff that happened in the first one, but as an examination of discrimination, minorities and the horror of racism it’s fantastic. Something about the writing is very visual as well, I can totally see it as a movie.

Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr.

Third in the Wicked Lovely series, it felt a little bit like a difficult middle child. Our kick-ass herione Ash became a bit emo in the absence of Seth, who is off making stupid decisions. Lots of politics, lots of set up for the final book.

The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd.

Slight departure from the earlier titles. Set in the future, this book chronicles one girl’s experiences of the first year of Carbon Rationing, which England is trialling after a number of extreme weather events. Her parents can’t really cope with the loss of their car, her father, a travel agent, loses his job because no one can afford the carbon credits it would take to leave the country. It made me want to conserve energy, but we already do quite a lot of that. I guess imagining how bad it *could* be does make you want to prevent that happening.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (Chaos Walking book 1)

Strange. Hard to explain. Sci-fi. Todd has lived his whole life in Prentisstown, which is only populated by men. Prentisstown is on the New World, when settlers arrived in their spaceships they ended up upsetting the native aliens. The aliens fought back by releasing germs…one lot of germs infected the animals the settlers had brought with them, and gave them the ability to talk. The second lot of germs killed all the women and half the men. The remaining men were given the Noise. That is, all the things they think become audible to everyone around them. Images and words bombard everyone around.


It’s also very exciting, as Todd discovers that everything is not as it seems and the book becomes more or less an action movie. Won’t say anything more, except that Todd’s conversations with his dog are adorable and funny.

Awesome young adult books

Wicked Lovely Melissa Marr

Ash has always been able to see faeries but has been taught not to let them know that. She’s always been in love with her friend Seth too, but his womanising ways have stopped her taking it any further. That is, until Keenan, the cursed Summer King decides that Ash is the one to break the curse and become the Summer Queen.

It’s a complicated story with a realistic reaction to being stalked and a genuinely intriguing Faerie court plot. I really enjoyed the mystery of it and had to stop myself from skipping to the end to find out what happens. Plus Ash was awesome and I loved the boys too. This is part of a series but each book is intended to be stand alone.

A Great and Terrible Beauty Libba Bray

I wanted to like this one a lot more than I did. I actually gave up around page 100, I just wasn’t feeling it. Like Star pointed out, all the characters were just kind of horrible, and I found the story to be slow.

Before I Die Jenny Downham

Oh my Goodness. I nearly bought this to read on the plane to Raro but changed my mind because I thought it would be too sad. It’s about Tessa, who has terminal cancer and has made a list of things she wants to do before she dies. Number one is sex and out of the way rather fast, the rest of her list is a bit tougher. It’s an incredibly moving book, to say the least. It does make you want to seize life by the privates and live the hell out of it. It’s also very elegantly written. Check it out. It’s sad, but it’s also hopeful.

Twenty Boy Summer
Sarah Ockler

This book is also about death, but it’s about the people who survive a terrible accident and have to deal with loss. Anna, her best friend Frankie and Frankie’s big brother Matt were inseparable, the three musketeers. Then Matt was killed in a car crash. One year on Frankie and Anna are going on holiday to the beach, determined to meet 20 boys, only Anna has been keeping something from Frankie.

The book started out kind of annoyingly, because of the flashbacks and forwards it was a little hard to follow. Once I got a handle on it though I really enjoyed it. Sarah Ockler’s really got a knack for making the over the top teenage emotions real and immediate.

Generation Dead by Daniel Waters

The dead are coming back to life, and they’re attending high school. A very personal, small, story about the ‘living impaired’ students at high school. Centred around Goth girl Phoebe and her connection to the dead boy Tommy. Her best friends, Adam and Margi can’t quite unserstand it. There aren’t any big answers in this, no one knows why the dead are coming back, they don’t seem to be eating the living and we’re told that it’s only American teenagers that come back. The story is more concerned with prejudice, understanding and dealing with difficult emotions. I found it to be absorbing, interesting and hard to put down. Hopefully it’s the start of a series….

Awesome Young Adult books

These books were all borrowed from the library 🙂

The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins

I can’t explain how much this book affected me. It was so involving that I dreamed I was in it. It was so exciting I read three quarters of it in one day, and then I wanted to make love to it. I was a library book though, so I returned it instead.

Story wise it’s a post apocalyptic tale about a facist-ish society where the rulers keep the rest of the country down by forcing them to offer up one boy and one girl every year to battle to the death in an all access, compulsory viewing reality TV show. One kid survives and their district gets monetary and food rewards. Our hero, Katniss, volunteers for the Hunger Games to save her innocent little sister. The book follows the whole process, going to the capital city to get made over and the politics surrounding the games and then of course, the game itself.

It is good, check it out.

So Yesterday Scott Westerfeld

I want to be an innovator so bad. Some of the time I think I am one, and that makes me really happy, but some of the time I think I’m just a trendsetter or even an early adopter.

This book is about trends, and how trends are made, and how they are marketed. It’s also about copyright infringements, cultural terrorism and falling in love. It’s a classic Westerfeld actioner, really pacey and exciting, but maybe a little less out there than the Uglies or Peeps books.

Intensely Alice Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

The latest in my beloved Alice series kind of left me thinking ‘meh’. I can’t quite put my finger on why. I’m wondering if its because Alice isn’t ringing very true as a nearly-18 year old. Or maybe it’s because I’m annoyed that she keeps coming back to the boy she dated when she was 10 years old.

Being Nikki Meg Cabot

The sequel to Airhead and what I’ve come to refer to as Meg Cabot does sci-fi. I found this one not as good as Airhead, I think because it was quite repetitive. There was a lot of Em agonising over whether or not she could ever be with her true love, and it got a little old. On the other hand, the story picked up a lot towards the end and it got very exciting.

I wished there was more of her actually doing modeling, but I guess that’s not what the book is really about.

Graphic Novels I’ve read lately

Little Vampire
By Joann Sfar

This is really a children’s book but it was in the adult graphic novel collection, I think because of the way it deals with vampires and death and monsters. But it’s really a kid’s book. It’s a collection of three stories about a little vampire, who lives in a haunted mansion with his mother and a bunch of ghosts and monsters. He gets lonely (despite his red flying dog) and decides to go to school. Only thing is, at night all the other kids aren’t at school. Through a series of notes he makes friends with one of the ‘day kids’ and they have adventures together in the night time. It was cute. I liked it and I would recommend it to horror fans, those dealing with bullies and fans of weird Gothic art.

Gray Horses
By Hope Larson

Not sure if this is autobiographical or not, but it’s the story of a French art student on an exchange at an American university. It was very short and gentle, mixing French language with English a little and exploring loneliness and culture. I enjoyed it, but it didn’t blow my mind. I would recommend this for pretentious art students.

To The Heart of the Storm
By Will Eisner

I’m a terrible comics geek. I had never read an Eisner comic before this one. Eisner is basically the father of graphic novels. He wrote The Spirit which is super famous comics-wise and was recently made into a terrible movie. Anyway, my education has begun. I read this account of Will’s early life living as a Jew in New York and Jersey, told in flashback as he heads out in the train to serve in World War 2. It was very moving and sad, the amount of prejudice back then and his father’s struggle to pursue painting but still support the family. There was exploration of how he encouraged Will to pursue art as well and how Will’s relationships with others were shaped by his faith. It was hard going sometimes, lots of nasty, difficult subject matter but very very good. An absorbing read and when I went back to the library I looked for more of his reprinted memoirs. I would recommend this to fans of autobiography, people who like reading about wars and dedicated comics geeks.

Scott Pilgrim vs the Universe
By Bryan Lee O’Malley

The Scott Pilgrim books are being made into a movie! Woop woop. In the mean time you should really read them. It’s a Canadian manga about a 23 year old slacker pursuing true love and trying to make it with his band. It’s fun and silly and cute and at the same time, quite a serious commentary on relationships. I love it to bits. This was the 5th installment and really moved the over all plot forward. As always it left me wanting more…hopefully the movie will do it justice. It’s hard to imagine Michael Cera in the title role, but I think he can probably do it. I would recommend this to you. You should totally go and read the whole Scott Pilgrim series, it’s great fun.

American Widow
by Alissa Torres

Oh autobiographical graphic novels, how I adore thee. This book is written by Alissa, whose husband died in the attack on the World Trade Centre. She was heavily pregnant at the time. Part biography of her husband, an illegal immigrant, part a document of how difficult it was to get the promised support and financial aid, the story is told in fragments, skipping around various aspects of her post 9/11 life. The disjointedness is jarring when you read it, but having finished it I think it makes it all that more accurate a description of her grief and the turmoil that she experienced. I cried. I felt lucky. I felt like I should appreciate everything that I have. It was awesome. I would recommend this to anyone who is curious.


In my quest to read more classics I decided that Dracula was the next one to tackle. I kind of sort of read Dracula back in 2006 when there was a livejournal community uploading it in real time, with all the diary entries and letters posted according to the dates in the book. This means it was in a different order slightly to the book contents. In any case I couldn’t remember very much of it from then and when I read it again much of it was new to me.

Of all the classics I’ve read so far I think I enjoyed Dracula the most. It’s just such a good story, spooky and engrossing and populated with interesting characters. I guess they have to be classics for a reason, but I didn’t enjoy Wuthering Heights nearly so much.

One of the things I really enjoyed was the portrait of Jonathan and Mina Harker’s relationship. There is strain put on it by the events of the book, or should I say, the actions of the Count, but through it all they remain devoted to each other. Mina is in a lot of ways the stronger of the two, being much less likely to break down emotionally and more level headed when faced with difficulties. Jonathan is a man of action and his devotion to Mina is what gives him the determination to hunt and kill Dracula with the others.

There is a very moving scene when Mina is aware that she has the vampiric taint on her and could potentially turn, she asks all the men in turn to promise to kill her if she ever does turn. This is understandably very hard on Jonathan, but she tells him that he must do it and allow her that comfort, that she will not be allowed to live on as a monster but be put to rest by one who loves her. Although it pains him to do so, Jonathan promises this to her. It’s hard to explain now that I’ve put it down, but his desire to make her happy even in such a horrible situation overcomes his initial resistance. Maybe I should have just said that they keep writing about each other when they are apart and trying to take the strain off each other when they are together. That sounds much nicer doesn’t it?

I love the side characters, the weirdly accented workmen that the characters encounter. I like the chapter about the last voyage of The Demeter, I like the way the Count can be so many different forms, but can only change at certain times of day. I like the distinct three acts the book is divided into and I love the character of Lucy.

All in all, I’d definitely recommend it. It’s wonderful to see all the vampiric lore that became such common knowledge, and I think you’ll enjoy the way Van Hellsing talks. English is his second language you see.

Point of Fashion: Batman/Robin
Current Obsession: Cemeteries of London

Books I’ve read

On the Road by Jack Kerouac
It was awesome. I mean, it didn’t make you want to pick it up once you’d put it down because there was no plot, but I liked reading it. I liked the idea of the road trips, I missed them when I was finished. I will read it again some day. Plus, I like checking it off my list of classics read.

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
I had this massive craving to read this story again and bought it for $10 at Borders. I love this story so much. It’s so sad, but the bravery of Sara makes it beautiful. I also love that she is a storyteller, I love the way she imagines and pretends and tries so hard to be a good person, even when she is starving. That’s the kind of princess I want to be.
I love this book to bits. I think I might read it again.

Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman
Told from two different points of view in alternate chapters, this is a pretty classic superhero story but told as a regular novel rather than a comic. The first point of view is Doctor Impossible, a super villain who is a bit like Lex Luthor if he was a mad scientist with some super powers. I pictured him as Neil Patrick Harris because of Dr Horrible. The other point of view is Fatale, an ordinary girl who was in a terrible accident and was rebuilt as a super powered cyborg. It was really fun and funny and the characters were interesting and engaging.

The Walking Dead: Volume 7 by Robert Kirkman
Man. These books just get more and more hardcore. I mean I knew it would go badly, because all the main characters were all like ‘oh, everything’s been so happy and peaceful and we’re all doing so well.’ And them BAM! huge scary cliffhanger ending. Plus there’s a nice line of grey going on about whether our heroes are really the good guys or not.

Now I’m reading Blood and Iron by Elizabeth Bear, which is a slightly overwritten modern fantasy about Faerie, mages, werewolves and a rather lovely kelpie. If by lovely I mean dark and evil and a bit sexy. It took a couple of chapters to warm up but I’m enjoying it now.