What I've read lately

hallieod at indigo.ie hallieod at indigo.ie
Sat Jan 25 12:35:58 EST 2003

These are the books nobody else has talked about here - my generally 
out-of-step responses to some other already-discussed books will go 

_Alchemy_, Margaret Mahy.  I gave this to Bec for Christmas, but 
ended up reading it before she did.  We both gave it a sort of pretty 
good rating, but were not wildly enthusiastic.  Somewhat reminiscent 
of _The Changeover_ in that it had a single mother, gone AWOL father, 
teen-aged protagonist who had to learn to use or open up to a magical 
gift in order to save someone.  Very cool parts, especially liked the 
bespelled house.  I really thought it was weakened by a suddenly 
extra up-beat ending (even though I hate sad endings), and overall, 
not as good as TC, though it also didn't have some of the things that 
annoyed me about that.

_Time Stops for No Mouse_, Michael Hoeye.  Possibly would work well 
for younger Redwall fans (though I'm not, so can't say with any 
knowledge of the books).  I found it a bit heavy on the whimsicality, 
though it was fun.  Again, I found the ending a bit of a let-down.

This one was my surprise hit of the lot:  Catherine Fisher, _The 
Oracle_.   Becca and I read the Snow-Walker's Son trilogy a few years 
ago, and were not all that impressed with it, though enough so to 
keep reading.  I just picked this up on a whim, and really found it 
impressive.  It's a very gripping and engrossing story, and has a 
wonderful invented religious system - described by Catherine Fisher 
as a mixture of "the dry, dessicated mysteries of Egypt's religion of 
death, and the bright splendour of Greece".  The ending was 
incredibly eerie!  I was quite relieved to find on Hodder's web-site 
that there is a sequel coming, as there was no mention of it in the 
book.  (Not for anyone with a scorpion phobia.)

Becca picked up _Going for Stone_, by Philip Gross  and passed it on 
to me as a must read.  This is one spooky book.  I think I might have 
been disappointed that the horror seems to veer away from a 
supernatural element which is hinted at, towards a more normal 
explanation - except that I was reading too fast to find out What 
Would Happen next to notice.  The ending left a big loop-hole of 
doubt though, which worked well.  (This isn't strictly Horror, I 
wouldn't think, but sort of Coraline-ish scary for older readers.) 
This is Gross's first novel, btw, and quite impressive.

I really wanted to find Fisher's _The Lammas Field_, which sounds 
wonderful, but didn't see it, and so got _Corbenic_.  I'd also 
recommend this highly - to anyone except those with aversion to 
Arthurian elements in stories.  This one is modern-day, 
kid-with-problems (big problems) story, interwoven with a 
supernatural theme.  Very engrossing, and some cool characters.  One 
thing I liked about both _The Oracle_ and _Corbenic_ was the way 
Fisher has main characters who are likeable, even when behaving in a 
very unlikable way.

I have already mentioned _Thursday_, and Becca read _Summerland_, by 
Michael Chabon, and said it's excellent.  It's next on my to-be-read 

Finally, and in a completely different mode,  I was recommended _Make 
Lemonade_, by Virginia Euwer Wolff.  Not a new book, but possibly 
newly published over here.  Becca read that while I was reading 
_Corbenic_, and then insisted I read it too.  Wonderful book (though 
probably not in the category of Books to Recommend to Teenage Boys 
Who Like Harry Potter!).

[Note for Melissa: The Catherine Fishers don't seem to be available 
in the States, which is a bit surprising, as I'd have thought most 
authors who write spec. ficition for teenagers, and have won a few 
awards, would be snapped up anywhere.  I'm not sure about the 
availability though.]


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