Archive | January 2013

Manga YA – Peach Girl by Miwa Ueda

Peach Girl Cover

Young fiction shouldn’t be limited to just books. Whilst my experience with manga isn’t too broad, one of my favourite series in High School was Peach Girl by Miwa Ueda. 

With long blonde hair, blue eyes and tanned skin, Momo is constantly being made fun of because she looks different. She can’t help the way she looks, she’s on the swim team at school and the long hours have made her skin dark and hair lighter than everyone else. 

It’s a typical teenage story. A beautiful girl that is the envy of everyone else. She’s in love with the popular guy that doesn’t notice her, has a best friend that ruins her life and an annoying boy that teases her constantly.

That’s basically the premise of the series. It’s simple and focuses mainly on teenage love. This series spoke to me when I was sixteen and I still to this day love the drawings. Manga should be read more by everyone. I believe halfway through the Peach Girl series, the author even changed the format to read backwards to the front of the book, which is traditional manga. I enjoyed reading something so different and seeing the emotions of the characters through the drawings.

The series is very girly, but if you’re looking for a break from traditional books, give Peach Girl a try. A quick read finished on a train journey, this is perfect is your wanting to see a love triangle rather than just read about it.  

There’s 18 manga’s in the series, I recommend buying the first few and then getting some from the library to make sure you want to invest in the series. (When I have my own library be sure this series will have it’s own shelf.)

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Matched by Ally Condie

Matched Cover

Matched Info

Cassia Reyes has been waiting seventeen years to attend her Matching ceremony. A right of passage event when eligible teenagers receive their chosen matched partner. The officials have worked everything out. Each citizen is prepared to have the maximized proficiency for their life: Food is fuel, not taste, activities are for body performance, not enjoyment and life moves on with peace.

Cassia receives her match and her life is scheduled to be everything she had hoped. Until the day when there’s a flicker of doubt on her tablet screen. Suddenly someone else replaces, if only for a brief second, her match’s face. This doubtful seed gives birth to a love Cassia is not supposed to feel. A strict follower of the rules Cassia begins to see them for what they are. In a world full of control can there be room for freedom?

I’ve been so excited to get my hands on Matched. I loved the premise of the story and I can’t wait to continue Cassia’s story. I see it as a Young Adult version of Orwell’s 1984. I was struck by the sadness of the loss of physical writing. It’s such a simple little detail, but it’s a relevant one that goes unnoticed today. The passing of Cassia’s grandfather is also more emotional than most YA’s go.

The emotion that is engrossed in the pages gives the book a broader audience, meaning that younger readers will enjoy the love and romance, whilst older ones will see the deeper meanings. Condie has got more than just a romance on her hands and I thrilled that the final instalment in the series, Reached was published last month. If you’re not a fan of romance there is other interesting aspects to this book so please don’t be thrown. Matched is not a traditional romance Young Adult! 

January 2013 Purchases

DSCF1122I had a lovely time with my friend over at Books and Berries last weekend. After having a few pots of tea at my favourite teahouse, Yumchaa, we breezed through Soho in the bitter wind. Down through the streets, rounding corners and dodging other people walking with speeds of an urgent mission, we finally made our way to Foyles bookstore.

It’s so nice to be surrounded by so many books, even if it did become overwhelming after ten minutes. I settled on these two books, one because I believe it was suggested by the Seattle Public Library YA newsletter and the other because my friend works for that publisher and said I should give it a go! Here are the summaries provided from Goodreads:

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Black:

Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story…

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: move, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, but now stained red and dripping blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

And she, for whatever reason, spares his life.

Black Spring by Alison Croggon

Inspired by Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, BLACK SPRING reimagines the passionate story in a fantasy 19th century society sustained by wizardry and the vengeance code of vendetta.

Anna spent her childhood with Damek and her volatile foster sister Lina, daughter of the Lord of the village. Lina has magical powers, and in this brutal patriarchal society women with magical powers are put to death as babies. Lina’s father, however, refuses to kill her but when vendetta explodes in their village and Lina’s father dies, their lives are changed forever. Their new guardian Masko sends Anna away and reduces Lina to the status of a servant. Damek—mad with love for Lina—attempts to murder Masko, then vanishes for several years. Anna comes home five years later to find Lina about to marry a pleasant young farmer, and witnesses Damek’s vengeful return and its catastrophic consequences.

Passionate, atmospheric and haunting, BLACK SPRING will stay with readers long after they turn the final page.

I am so excited to read these! Did anyone else buy something they can’t wait to start breezing through the pages?

The Long Walk by Stephen King – Vintage YA

People love to complain that Battle Royale was the original of The Hunger Games. True, both of the stories have similarities: Teenagers being forced to kill each other until one stands as the living victor within a secluded ‘battleground’. BA was published in 1999, HG was published in 2008. However, there is a book that was written before either of these dystopian realities. 20 years prior, Stephen King under the pen name Michael Bachman wrote The Long Walk that was published in 1979. 

The Long Walk

Every May there is a lottery where boys enter their names. 100 are selected to embark on a walking contest until one of them remains. This last survivor is crowned the winner. The winner of the contest receives whatever he wants for the rest of his life.

There are similarities to BR and HG: it’s set in a futuristic time period, technology is used to determine that the boys are walking more than 4 mph at all times and if they try to leave the road they get shot.

Thrilling and horrific, The Long Walk precedes these books that have rocked the world with their cruelty and grief. King, the master of terror has paved the way with this book that was before it’s time. Can King write YA? With this book I think the proof is more than exceptional.

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

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Warm Bodies Info

R is a zombie. It’s hard to tell how long he’s been dead or how long the zombies have been around. What R does know is that there is a hunger inside him that must be fed or he’ll die. What starts as a routine feeding session with his best friend M changes the moment he sets his cold grey dead eyes on Julia.

In that moment something alters. Something inside him stops. He protects Julia but does savour her boyfriend’s brain. R stumbles upon a beautiful love story through ingesting one’s memories.

R doesn’t understand why Julia is so special; there is just a feeling deep in inside that has been still until now. It’s as if Julia somehow has breathed new life into R’s decaying corpse and he’ll do anything to keep her safe from his kind.

What a TREAT this book is! I was turned on to this story by seeing the movie trailer, and by luck my friend had been given this book for Christmas! (I read it in two days to make sure I got my share) I was also ecstatic to learn that Marion is from Washington State himself! It’s rare to read about a male focused romance YA, but this book is done cleverly with humour and insight out of the ‘normal’ zombie genre.

I found this book to be a delightful read. It’s also short, and I loved how the chapters are separated by old school drawings of body parts. In a time where the zombie genre has arisen to its height, this book has the goods to keep it around for a long time. I hope the movie lives up to the book, and I also hope that the series continues in this strange ‘love conquers’ all track. It’s a simple story of hope and that message makes it essentially timeless.

Many thanks to my dear friend Rachael for letting me read her book and to her friend Michael for being awesome and winning it for her.