So some of you may have noticed I recently went on a round-the-world trip for 10 weeks. Yehes, in case you didn’t see this, I went to California, New Zealand and Japan for a jam-packed tour of skyscrapers, volcanoes, Hobbits, sushi and lovely friends.
Along the way I popped into several bookshops. Oh okay then, I went in quite a few bookshops. Alright, alright…I went in LOADS of bookshops. I’m a writer and reader, give me a break!
During these bookshop visits I selflessly kept a record of all the quirky, cool, intriguing, action-packed and epic-looking books I found (mainly young adult and children’s fiction, but there are adult books here too) so I could share this unique you-probably-won’t-find-this-at-home list of books you might like to check out.
Below is my list of “recommended” books, some of which are actually out in the UK and US, others are quite old but I’ve just not discovered them until now. My major caveat with this list is that I’ve not read any of the books. I’m recommending them based on quick perusals of the first few pages whilst standing in bookshops (after being drawn to them by cool book covers and punchy back page blurbs), so please don’t blame me if you decide to buy them and they’re not that great, alright. Just saying.
I like to think I’m a pretty good judge, so I reckon most people will find something in this wish-list that will interest them. So here they are…
The last words of Pamela May Donald (1961 – 2012)
Black Thursday. The day that will never be forgotten. The day that four passenger planes crash, at almost exactly the same moment, at four different points around the globe.
There are only four survivors. Three are children, who emerge from the wreckage seemingly unhurt. But they are not unchanged. And the fourth is Pamela May Donald, who lives just long enough to record a voice message on her phone. A message that will change the world.
The message is a warning.
A stunning, savage novel of art and violence, love and grief, The Painter is the story of a man who longs to transcend the shadows in his heart, a man intent on using the losses he has suffered to create a meaningful life.
Charlie Laird has always been fascinated by the sinister purple mansion that overlooks Cyprus Creek. Now he’s moving in there with his dad, little brother and new stepmother, who may or may not be a witch.
It’s not long before the mansion starts to have a strange effect on Charlie. His dreams turn to nightmares and they feel uncomfortably real. Most frightening of all, the nightmares have started to slip out of his dreams and into the waking world.
They are threatening to take over and only Charlie and his friends can stop them. Can they find the courage to face their deepest, darkest fears? Will they conquer the creatures of the night and save the day?
You may think me biased, being murdered myself. But my state of being has nothing to do with the curiosity toward my own species, if we can be called such. We do not go gentle, as your poet encourages, into that good night.A dead girl walks the streets.She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago.And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.Because the boy has a terrifying secret – one that would just kill to get out.
Growing up on Forge’s streets has taught Kyra how to stretch a coin. But when the leader of the Assassins Guild offers Kyra a lucrative job, she hesitates, and can’t quite resist his pull. Tristam of Brancel is a young Palace knight on a mission. After his best friend is brutally murdered by the Demon Riders, he vows to take them down. When a fateful raid throws Kyra and Tristam together, the two enemies realise that their best chance at survival – and vengeance – might be to join forces.
At the start of another pitiless winter, the wolves have come for the children of Keelut. Three children have been taken from this isolated Alaskan village, including the six-year-old boy of Medora and Vernon Slone.
Stumbled by grief and seeking consolation, Medora contacts nature writer and wolf expert Russell Core. Sixty years old, ailing in both body and spirit, and estranged from his daughter and wife, Core arrives in Keelut to investigate the killings. Immersing himself in this settlement at the end of the world, he discovers the horrifying darkness at the heart of Medora Slone and learns of an unholy truth harbored by this village.
When Vernon Slone returns from a desert war to discover his son dead and his wife missing, he begins a methodical pursuit across this frozen landscape. Aided by his boyhood companion, the taciturn and deadly Cheeon, and pursued by the stalwart detective Donald Marium, Slone is without mercy, cutting a bloody swath through the wilderness of his homeland. As Russell Core attempts to rescue Medora from her husband s vengeance, he comes face to face with an unspeakable secret at the furthermost reaches of American soil a secret about the unkillable bonds of family, and the untamed animal in the soul of every human being.
When David’s uncle comes to visit he sets off a bizarre series of events. Things become complicated when the pet rats turn bright red. David senses that somehow the red rats are connected to the story he is reading, and he becomes more convinced when the colour red becomes contagious.
The parallel story sees Felix and his friend Bella inadvertently shifted into a strange land where they must solve a riddle. But this puts them into great danger.
How will they escape and find their way home?
Sure, I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can’t be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There’s still a road of yellow brick—but even that’s crumbling.
What happened? Dorothy. They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.
My name is Amy Gumm—and I’m the other girl from Kansas. I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked. I’ve been trained to fight. And I have a mission: Remove the Tin Woodman’s heart. Steal the Scarecrow’s brain. Take the Lion’s courage. And—Dorothy must die.
The New York Times bestselling first book in a dark new series that reimagines the Oz saga.
The one magical remnant left to Avery is the ability to read dreams, and one night she foresees her own murder. Time is running short, both for her and for the people of her island who need the witches’ help to thrive.
Avery has never read a dream that hasn’t come true, but a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane tells her he can help her change her fate. Becoming a witch may prevent her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers it will also require a sacrifice she never expected. And as she falls in love with Tane, she learns it is his life and hers that hang in the balance.
He has Cotard’s Syndrome. He believes he is dead. Which makes his job as a hired assassin neutralising ‘problems’ for DBG, a massive multinational corporation, very simple. He carries out the task – and feels nothing.
Now DBG has such a problem. A key employee, Emily Buchanan, has disappeared, taking with her a fortune and priceless information which could destroy the company. Jacob must track her down. In previous assignments, he had worked with cold logical precision, but this time he has to confront a threat that he first must understand before it destroys him…
‘I need a new bum! Mine’s got a crack. I can see in the mirror a crack in the back. What to do when you need a new bum? Should you get one that’s blue or yellow spotted? A Chevy bum, a rocket bum that’s all fire and thrust, or a robo-bum? The options are endless – but wait, Dad’s bum crack is showing too? Maybe this is contagious.
It is the age of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, when Europe burns with a passion for long-flowing locks. And when seven sisters, born into fatherless poverty in Ireland, grow up with hair cascading down their backs, to their ankles, and beyond, men are not slow to recognise their potential.
It begins with a singing and dancing septet, with Irish jigs kicked out in dusty church halls. But it is not the sisters’ singing or their dancing that fills the seats: it is the torrents of hair they let loose at the end of each show. And their hair will take dark-hearted Darcy, bickering twins Berenice and Enda, plain Pertilly, gentle Oona, wild Ida and fearful, flame-haired Manticory – the inimitable narrator of their on-and-off stage adventures – out of poverty, through the dance halls of Ireland, to the salons of Dublin and the palazzi of Venice. It will bring some of them love and each of them loss. For their past trails behind the sisters like the tresses on their heads, and their fame and fortune will come at a terrible price…
Alex: school psycho and under-ground cage-fighting champion. Kyle: talented artist, smart school-boy and funny man. When Alex witnesses a brutal murder at the club he can’t go back to The Cage, but without fighting, he starts to lose control. He soon sets his sights on Kyle, a boy he thinks can help. But Kyle has his own problems and he’s convinced Alex is one of them. Boys can play dangerous games when they’re scared and this one will haunt everyone involved. What will it take for each boy to confront the truth?
Rebecca couldn’t feel more out of place in New Orleans, where she comes to spend the year while her dad is traveling. She’s staying in a creepy old house with her Aunt Claudia, who reads Tarot cards for a living. And at the snooty prep school, a pack of filthy-rich girls treat Rebecca like she’s invisible. Only gorgeous, unavailable Anton Grey seems to give Rebecca the time of day, but she wonders if he’s got a hidden agenda. Then one night, in Lafayette Cemetery, Rebecca makes a friend. Sweet, mysterious Lisette is eager to talk to Rebecca, and to show her the nooks and crannies of the city.
There’s just one catch.
Lisette is a ghost.
A ghost with a deep, dark secret, and a serious score to settle.
As Rebecca learns more from her ghost friend, and as she slowly learns to trust Anton Grey, she also uncovers startling truths about her own history. Will Rebecca be able to right the wrongs of the past, or has everything been ruined beyond repair?
Britt Pfeiffer has never been that adventurous, but that’s about to change. Wanting to impress her ex-boyfriend, Britt convinces best friend, Korbie, to take a trekking trip with her. But when a freak storm leaves the girls stranded they seek shelter in a cabin, where they find two knights in shining armour. Or so they think. Britt quickly realises that the girls need to get off the mountain, fast. In exchange for her life, she is forced to guide the boys down, and as they set out on a harrowing journey through the cold and snow, Britt realises the only way to escape with her life is to pretend she is on their side. But is gorgeous, sexy Mason an enemy or an ally? Tension mounts, and it’s only a matter of time before things turn deadly…
I remembered my name – Mara. But, standing in that ghostly place, faced with the solemn young man in the black coat with silver skulls for buttons, I could recall nothing else about myself.
And then the games began.
Think you know the meaning of suspense? Think again… The Messenger sees the darkness in young hearts, and the damage it inflicts upon the world. If they go unpunished, he offers the wicked a game. Win, and they can go free. Lose, and they will live out their greatest fear.
But what does any of this have to do with Mara? She is about to find out…
On a remote tropical island, twelve year-old Beatriz is about to embark on an epic journey, through hurricanes and across the high seas and back to the time of Christopher Columbus…
When Beatriz stumbles across a wild mare with strange markings in the jungle she can’t believe it is real. Yet from that moment on the strongest connection grows between them, and she begins to uncover an incredible history. For centuries ago, Felipa and her horse, Cara Blanca, were running for their lives.
As the fates of Beatriz, Felipa and their horses become entwined, Beatriz realises that the future of the world’s rarest horses depends on her.
Based on the extraordinary true story of the Abaco Barb, a real-life mystery that has remained unsolved for over five hundred years.
When 17 year-old Alex rescues a swan caught on a wire stuck deep in the Thames mud, she finds an extraordinary bracelet. Through its disturbing and compelling powers, she meets Callum, a soul locked in a half-life of sadness and mystery following a terrible accident, and his persuasive and sinister sister, Catherine. As Alex and Callum grow closer despite the enormous obstacles to their love, the dangers mount until Alex must risk everything to save her best friend and Callum must risk everything to save Alex.
There’s a ghost haunting 208 Water Street. She doesn’t know who she was, or why she’s still here. She does know that she is drawn to Maggie, the new girl in town, and her friends – beautiful, carefree Pauline and Liam, the boy who loves her.
But the ghost isn’t all that’s lurking in Gill Creek… Someone is killing young girls all across the county. Can the ghost keep these three friends safe? Or does she have another purpose?
A hauntingly beautiful mystery for fans of The Lovely Bones.
Claire is Ella Grey’s best friend. She’s there when the whirlwind arrives on the scene: catapulted into a North East landscape of gutted shipyards; of high arched bridges and ancient collapsed mines. She witnesses a love so dramatic it is as if her best friend has been captured and taken from her. But the loss of her friend to the arms of Orpheus is nothing compared to the loss she feels when Ella is taken from the world. This is her story – as she bears witness to a love so complete; so sure, that not even death can prove final.
But first, reader, you must travel to Victorian England, and there, in the wilds of Yorkshire, meet a brother and sister alone in the world, a pair bound by tragedy. You will, in time, enter the rooms of London’s mysterious Aegolius Club – a society of the richest, most powerful men in England. And at some point – we cannot say when – these worlds will collide.
It is then, and only then, that a new world emerges, a world of romance, adventure and the most delicious of horrors – and the secrets of The Quick are revealed.
Star Girl – She’s as magical as the desert sky. As mysterious as her own name. Nobody knows who she is or where she’s from. But everyone loves her for being different. And she captures Leo’s heart with just one smile. STARGIRL is a classic of our time that celebrates being true to ourselves and the thrill of first love. A life-changing read that touches souls of all ages.
Here starts an adventure that will span lifetimes and worlds. Discover where the story begins.
The world had changed even before I discovered the foreign ship wrecked on the shore below Crydee Castle, but it was the harbinger of the chaos and death that was coming to our door.
War had come to the Kingdom of the Isles, and in the years that followed it would scatter my friends across the world. I longed to train as a warrior and fight alongside our duke like my foster-brother, but when the time came, I was not offered that choice. My fate would be shaped by other forces.
My name is Pug. I was once an orphaned kitchen boy, with no family and no prospects, but I am destined to become a master magician…
Otto Hundebiss is tired of war, but when he defies Death he walks a dangerous path. A half beast half man gives him shoes and dice which will lead him deep into a web of dark magic and mystery. He meets the beautiful Safire – pure of heart and spirit, the scheming Mistress Jabber and the terrifying Lady of the Nail. He learns the powers of the tinderbox and the wolves whose master he becomes. But will all the riches in the world bring him the thing he most desires?
Fairy tales are often the cruellest stories of all; in this exquisite novel Sally Gardner writes about great love and great loss.
ONLY A TRUE BEST FRIEND CAN PROTECT YOU FROM IMMORTAL ENEMIES . . .
Lissa Dragomir is a mortal vampire. She must be protected at all times from the fiercest and most dangerous vampires of all – the ones who will never die.
Rose Hathaway is Lissa’s best friend – and her bodyguard.
Now, after two years of illicit freedom, they’ve been dragged back inside the iron gates of St. Vladimir’s Academy. The girls must survive a world of forbidden romances, a ruthless social scene and terrifying night-time rituals. But above all, they must never let their guard down, lest the immortal vampires take Lissa – forever . . .