A gritty and compelling vampire story

coldest girl in coldtownTITLE = THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLD TOWN

AUTHOR = HOLLY BLACK

GENRE = FANTASY, SUPERNATURAL, VAMPIRES

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS

Imagine a world where vampires exist … not the sparkly kind, the dangerous kind. Imagine going to a party one night and waking up the next morning to find all the other party guests have been killed …. by vampires. That is, all but your ex-boyfriend. Do you run? Do you save him? And what about the vampire chained in the corner .. do you take him with you or escape while you can??

This may seem like a nightmare world but it is Tana’s reality.

And so begins a gripping new novel by that wondrous writer, Holly Black. As Tana tries to maintain her sanity, and her humanity, she is driven into increasingly desperate situations. Going on the run with a soon-to-be vampire she once loved and a somewhat crazed vampire who she seems to be falling for, may seem like an act of madness but Tana is intent on staying alive and staying one step ahead of danger. She is not trying to impress anyone, she is not looking for romance – she simply wants to stay alive and human …even if she must risk everything by entering the strange world of Coldtown, where vampires and reality TV seem to have merged.

Only Holly Black could have dreamed up a world like this one: dark and cruel and absolutely fascinating. A world where compassion may be found in the unlikeliest places and where no-one is quite as they seem. A compelling tale from go to whoa which will have readers spellbound, especially those who like their fantasy to be just a little bit gritty.

Highly Highly Recommended (dma) *****  

An exciting mix of supernatural curses and romance

TITLE = INVISIBILTY

AUTHOR = DAVID LEVITHAN & ANDREA CREMER

GENRE = PARANORMAL, ROMANCE, FAMILY, ADVENTURE

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 10 -11

 Stephen has been invisible since birth yet he has somehow managed to eke out an existence in one of the busiest cities in the world: New York. Living on his own since his father fled and his mother died, Stephen is used to spending time with himself, invisibly wandering the city, especially Central Park. IT may be a solitary existence but he has made peace with his lot in life. This peace and quiet is massively disrupted when he discovers that his new neighbour, Elizabeth can actually see him! Elizabeth is battling her own demons: for she is angry at the world since a shocking attack on her gay brother, Laurie, has split up her family and forced Elizabeth, Laurie and her Mum to relocate from small town Minnesota to NYC. Both Elizabeth and Stephen are shy and hesitant when it comes to forming relationships, yet they tentatively reach out to each other.

Then suddenly everything changes: for the characters and for the reader. For once we learn the reason for Stephen’s invisibility the whole genre and pace of the novel changes. Suddenly Stephen and Elizabeth are facing life changing and life threatening odds and we enter a world of magic, spells and curses and nail biting action. Andrea Cremer is well versed in paranormal fiction but this is new territory for David Levithan and one of the charms of this novel is that the chapters that he contributes to the story (those from Stephen’s perspective) are filled with typical Levithan thoughtfulness and reflection.

Ultimately, this is not your everyday paranormal romance… it is much much more… and will leave readers with plenty to think about. Fans of David Levithan may be surprised but many will also be excited by this new direction in his writing.

Check out the authors websites here (David Levithan) and Here (Andrea Cremer ).

Highly Recommended *****         

An intriguing paranormal series begins

TITLE = DARKNESS RISING Book 1: THE GATHERING

AUTHOR = KELLEY ARMSTRONG

GENRE = NATIVE AMERICAN INDIAN MYTHOLOGY, PARANORMAL ROMANCE, IDENTITY, FRIENDSHIP, SCHOOL, GROWING UP

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 10, 11

This is a compelling and engaging story. At the beginning it seems like it will be just a teen story about high school romances and friendship but as it goes on, more mysterious elements begin to emerge. Maya has always had a strong affinity to nature and amazing powers to heal animals. But are these powers linked to her pawprint birthmark?? Are they a sign from her Native American background? Could she be a witch … or something more?

And what about bad boy Rafe – is he as bad as he pretends to be? And what is so strange about his sister?

With the death of her best friend Serena hanging over both Maya and her best friend, Daniel, there seems to be an edge to the story that lurks mysteriously and gradually takes on a more urgent note. When an unwelcome journalist turns up dead, both Maya and Daniel are concerned about the implications – what is there to hide in this small town of St Clouds?

Readers will be sitting on the edge of their seats as the pace and action increases over the final chapters. A real cliffhanger of an ending ensures that readers will eagerly await Book2 in this engaging paranormal series.

Recommended (dma) ****

A dark and spooky surfing story

TITLE = NIGHT BEACH

AUTHOR = KIRSTY EAGAR

GENRE = IDENTITY, FRIENDSHIP, ROMANCE

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 11, 12

This is a dark novel. At its heart is a gothic story about supernatural, ghostly elements which have taken over a young surfer (Kane) and are threatening to take over his step-cousin, Abbie. But even darker than this is the undercurrent of violence that lurks behind the surfing world that Abbie and Kane inhabit. From the moment Kane returns to town and punches the local surfing bully, the threat of further violence lingers around the edges of the story as we await to see if the town bully exacts revenge on Kane.

Against this dark backdrop is the central story about Abbie, a lonely girl who is looking for love and lusts after Kane, even though she fears he is not good for her and recognises that her obsession is unlikely to be returned. Abbie comes from a broken home: her dad is loving but he is starting a new family in Brisbane, so Abbie has reluctantly begun living with her Mum who seems aloof at best and critical at worst.  Her sister offers sage advice but she too is largely absent from Abbie’s world as she is off in Canberra studying and exploring her own romances. Abbies’s best friend is holidaying in Darwin and her sole remaining friend is bitter about her obsession with Kane. Whilst the artistic and creative Abbie attempts to make sense of her feelings, and discover the truth behind Kane’s ghostly haunting, she is also trying to complete her HSC project.

Eagar often writes about the surfing world, but in her hands this world has a far more sinister feel than in the world presented by other Aussie authors such as Tim Winton, largely due to the violence and power plays inherent in the male surfing fraternity.

This is dark and compelling novel and has been shortlisted for the Gold Inky 2012 (dma) ***