Imagine some ingenious kid setting up a high school gossip app. Imagine said kid being of unfortunately malevolent character, and taking great pleasure in posting his fellow students darkest secrets online. When this scenario is realised at Bay View High, a seemingly innocuous after-school detention sets the scene for murderous revenge and jaw-dropping revelations. One of Us is Lying has been a big hit on this summer’s Teen bestseller list. Containing romance, intrigue, and potential murder, it’s compelling reading, and also remarkably easy on the brain.
The roll call of Roald Dahl’s books is impressive. There can’t be many children unfamiliar with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or The BFG. But teenagers often leave his books behind, not realising that he wrote some deliciously subversive short stories, just ripe for adolescent minds. His nod to the macabre is captured in this 2017 Puffin collection, ideal to dip into as September marks Roald Dahl’s birthday celebrations.
Virginia is feeling wolfish. Scowling, growling, and howling at the moon, her thoughts are dark. Her sister Vanessa is understandably anxious; can her artistic efforts dispel the storm clouds? This striking book is inspired by Virginia Woolf’s close relationship with her sister, the artist Vanessa Bell. The healing power of art, and the bonds of sisterhood, are portrayed with the aid of some beautiful illustrations.
Twenty years after winning the Booker Prize for her debut novel The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy is back with a new novel. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness weaves together many stories, but at its core is the story of Tilo and her three suitors: Musa, Naga and Biplab and the violent history of Kashmir and India. My feelings about this book oscillated between wild enthusiasm, slight confusion and occasional boredom. Roy’s undisputable skills as a writer kept me going, but I’m not sure I’d call it a flawless comeback.
Bookstoker Young Readers
Eleanor is a woman who has elevated living alone to an art form. Her days follow the same pattern week in week out – a dull office job, the Telegraph cryptic crossword, the Archers, a regular chat with ‘Mummy’, no friends…and two bottles of Tesco vodka to get through the weekend. She is clearly not fine at all, and the novel is an investigation into why she is not fine, and what happens when she deals with her terrible past and finally allows herself to thaw.
A self-proclaimed outsider, Anna’s days are spent quietly dreaming. Her imagination is rich but her days are lonely. Until that is, the bewitching Marnie appears, and over the course of one long hot summer, opens Anna’s timid heart to friendship. But Marnie’s enigmatic aura is unsettling. Who is she really, and what is her mysterious behaviour concealing?
Zen Starling, petty thief and one of the ‘…low heroes of this infinite city’, rides the rails in a distant future. His exploits are often nefarious, but he also has an abiding love for the romanticism of the K-Bahn, a galactic train network that traverses the very stars. Desperate to escape his bleak existence, Zen accepts a dangerous proposition, one that will leave him in possession of the very key to the universe. The award nominated Railhead introduces us to an intriguing new universe. Picture a gilded and lamplit locomotive, its huge engine idling ‘like a heartbeat deep inside it’.
A pirate is sitting in Eddy’s gran’s bath. A startling event, but a very welcome one. Eddy has been having the most rubbish holiday in the history of holidays, and excitement is well overdue. Mad Bad Jake McHake has arrived, and he’s looking to recruit a gang of ‘salt-seasoned old sea-dogs’, for adventure on the high seas. Shortlisted for the Laugh-Out-Loud Awards 2017 (the ‘Lollies’), Eddy Stone’s riotous adventure is surely a major contender.
I have to confess. Shakespeare scares the hell out of me. Plain and simple. I sit through Shakespeare plays with my British-educated friends watching them nod and smile, while I struggle to understand even half of what’s being said. But hasn’t she studied English Literature, you might be thinking? Indeed, I have, but only in my later degrees at which point I could choose other kinds of courses. Which I happily did. The only piece of Shakespeare I’ve ever read (parts of) was King Lear as an undergraduate student in America.
Time to fix that.