An interesting blend of humour, grief and reality TV

loathing lolaTITLE = LOATHING LOLA




15 year old Courtney  Marrow has lost her boyfriend in a car accident and is struggling with her grief. She lives with her Mum and younger brother and has a poor relationship with her father (who recently remarried the dreadful Lola, without warning his children first). On the plus side, Courtney has a great best friend: Tim (they talk together, support each other and he is very loyal towards her). His twin sister (Katie) is another story altogether; having recently decided she will be Courtney’s second best friend …. Is she really on Courtney’s side (or only looking out for herself?)

Courtney has been selected to be the star of a reality TV show based on “a real teen” – however, she is unaware of the plotting going on behind the scenes: by supposed friend and others. Can Courtney survive the reality experience with her reputation and sanity intact??? And what about those burgeoning feelings for a new boy in her life … is it too soon after the death of her previous boyfriend?

Clearly there is a lot on Courtney’s plate and readers will enjoy watching her trying to untangle the complications in her life and her heart.

The authors second novel (The First Third) was announced as an Honour Book (OR) in the CBCA Book of The Year awards. This is his first book and it reveals the same desire to blend laughter and sadness. Although it is perhaps not quite so well handled here, there is still a lot to like about this book.

Recommended (dma) ***  

Outrageous fun

beauty queensTITLE = BEAUTY QUEENS




Libba Bray is in sparkling form in this novel. Imagine what would happen if a plane load of beauty queens crash lands on a desert island. Will they follow the lead of Taylor (Miss Teen Dream Texas) and keep practising their routines so they are ready to go into full swing when they are rescued? Or will they follow Adina (Miss New Hampshire) who wants them to look out for themselves?  Will their sense of competition prevent them from working together or will they discover that their pageant talents can be put to a real life purpose after all?

While casting a satirical eye over the beauty pageant business, Libba Bray also sheds a comical glance at boy bands, reality TV and Mother-daughter relationships. There are unexpected twists and turns in the plot to keep our reader on the edge of their seats …and our poor teen queens on the edge of their toes. Tough exteriors are put to the test and long held principles are questioned.

But at its heart, this novel is about entertainment and fun. From the narrative voice to the comical footnotes, there is oh so much to love about this novel. Snappy writing and a cast of wonderful characters will delight readers – both boys and girls should find some mirth in the pages of this book.

Highly Recommended (dma) *****


Sequel packs a punch!



GENRE = ACTION, science fiction


This sequel to “The Hunger Games” is every bit as rivetting as the first novel in the series. Katmiss and Peeta may be victors from the most recent games but that does not put them out of danger, in fact, far from it! After receiving a visit from the President himself, Katmiss is all too aware of the danger she faces; and it is not only her life at stake – but also the lives of everyone she holds dear. It seems that rebellion is in the air in many districts and the fans of this rebellion have been unwittingly fanned by the actions of Katmiss and Peeta that saw them crowned as victors. It is no longer a simple matter of survival in the arena there is more political intrigue at stake in this novel – our heroes must decide to what extent they want to (or are able to) support the rebellion whilst also trying to negotiate the hurdles of relationships on a more personal level. Once more, Katmiss feels herself torn between Gale and Peeta – both are men of integrity and both love her – which way does her heart truly lie and does it matter if none of them can survive the Capitols latest ploy?

Suzanne Collins masterfully weaves action packed drama with political intrigue and just a dash of romance to hold her readers on the edge of their seats  – and few will see the twist coming at the end of this novel. Fans will be eagerly awaiting the final instalment in this intriguing trilogy.