Google Search

Monday, August 4, 2014

James Dawson is Queen of Teen books

James Dawson, Queen of Teen James Dawson has fought hard to win the title Queen of Teen 2014. And now he has been crowned.James Dawson, Cruel Summer

All rise for his majesty the queen as James Dawson, the author of Hollow Pike and Say Her Name, becomes the first male winner of the Queen of Teen award for his latest book, Cruel Summer.

After a vigorous social media campaign, Dawson topped a shortlist entirely nominated by teens (Cathy Cassidy, Beth Reekles, Holly Smale, Cassandra Clare, Veronica Roth, John Green, S.C. Ransom, Tonya Hurley, and Natasha Farrant) to join an illustrious cast of previous winners including Louise Rennison, Cathy Cassidy and Maureen Johnson.

Watch out for our report from the awards ceremony and interview with James by site member Alannahbee coming up!

Cruel Summer is a psychological thriller focusing on a group of teens who, one year on from the suicide of one of their friends, try to get over it by going away to a holiday villa in the Mediterranean. But when a new guest, claiming to have evidence that the suicide was actually a murder, is herself found dead, it's clear that one of them must be the killer…

Helloitsheath called it the "perfect balance of murder mystery, teen fiction and horror movie', which at the same time 'manages to be funny, heartwarming and – murder aside – ­easy for teenage audiences to relate to".

While XoXo Bookworm_98 gushed, "there were SO many times I just HAD to put the book down to take a breather, so that I could process what had just happened – there were just about a million twists that you will Never. See. Coming".

Dawson has been a vocal supporter of LGBT rights (including supporting Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst) and XoXo Boomworm_98 noted that "the LGBT aspect of the book was so different from others I've read, and was a vital, beautiful, heart wrenching part of the tale".

Buy Cruel Summer at the Guardian Bookshop or join the site to get your copy to review!

For all the latest kids books news - and to comment - join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter (@GdnChildrensBks)!

View the original article here

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The literary World Cup: readers' best all-time teams

Albert Camus goalie Albert Camus (at the front, wearing a flat cap), the best real-life literary goalie – here, with the University of Algiers football team. Photograph: Roger-Viollet/Rex Features

Back when the World Cup was in those exciting and unpredictable first rounds, we were playing away at Penguin's imaginary books World Cup, where an England with JK Rowling, George Orwell and Agatha Christie in attack and the likes of Shakespeare and Dickens in the midfield could possibly – possibly – have had a chance to win something.

The UK imprint imagined matches and footballing incidents on Twitter, and we joined in the fun, asking for your all-time favourite literary teams. Now that the actual competition is coming to an end, here are our top five writers' XIs.

TimFootman offered an all-nationalities, all-time XI with Albert Camus as goalkeeper (because – "duh" – the French author played as a goalie while studying at the University of Algeria). He chose a pretty hard-core defence (Leo Tolstoy, Marcel Proust, Samuel Richardson and Vikram Seth) "because you need big guys at the back", went for a self-explanatory "middlebrowfield" with John Galsworthy, Arnold Bennett and Elizabeth Gaskell, and chose Bret Easton Ellis, Will Self and DBC Pierre in attack because, "as Mr Suárez proved, it's the scary, unpredictable, slightly bonkers ones who get results." No comment.

team 1 Photograph: Toby Moses

tagomagoman gave an extensive justification for this killer and eclectic XI, managed by "respected and innovative coach with a steely heart of darkness" Joseph Conrad. Some of our favourite picks:

James Joyce (centre-back): "The ultimate cultured centre-back famously left his native Ireland to learn his trade on the continent. It is a rare forward who can find a way past his impenetrable prose."

Cormac McCarthy (central midfield): "This tough tackling, no nonsense player patrols the border country between midfield and defence. If you thought the Comanche attack in Blood Meridian was brutal you should see what he does to a midfield runner who has the temerity to approach his territory."

F Scott Fitzgerald (central midfield): "Seen by some as a luxury player too keen to sit back and admire his own beautiful passes. Sometimes seems more concerned with his celebrity lifestyle with his glamorous wife than his career. But when he puts his mind to it, boy can he play. With the steely McCarthy beside him they form a formidable midfield."

William Burroughs (right midfield): "Old snake hips is one of the most feared wingers in the game. Has suffered with 'refuelling' issues in the past, but as long as he receives his 'vitamin supplement' before the game is a reliable asset. Famous for terrorising full-backs with his notorious cut-up technique that leaves them gasping for comprehension. Should score more goals, but suffers from a wayward shot."

team 2 Photograph: Toby Moses

neophil33 disagreed with Penguin's version of the French team and offered the following instead (with Anatole France, François Rabelais, Alphonse Daudet, Marguerite Duras, Louis Aragon, François Mauriac as subs), which sparked quite a debate. "That midfield could be a bit flaky", said shinerbock. "I'd have Proust among the subs – just in case you needed to bring someone on to run down the clock", offered AnotherBe. shinerbock jumped in again: "You can't have Rimbaud and Verlaine in the same team together. Even on opposite wings. There's no discipline there. Bring them on as 'impact subs', when Baudelaire's been sent off for showing off." Etcetera.

France Photograph: Toby Moses

"At last, a competition Ireland will dominate", ventured theundertone. We had as many as four different Irish teams suggested – here's one by SanPaolo: from Patrick Kavanagh ("weird loner, ideal keeper") to Oscar Wilde ("big target man, ex-boxer, great turn – of phrase) and Samuel Beckett ("mercurial forward, famously not many kicks") on the attack and of course Joyce at the midfield ("creative, but tendency to overelaborate"). Although as Sunburst said, perhaps their star player would suffice: "between 11 best English novelists of the 20th century and one chapter of Ulysses, I'd confidently put my money on the latter."

Ireland Photograph: Toby Moses

And finally, how irresistible is this team from Ancient Rome suggested by Serdal:

Cicero (goalkeeper): "Reliable, can do everything, great reflexes, huge belief in his own abilities, can be a show-off, never to blame in his own mind."

Caesar (left-back): "Lean, efficient, fast, unfussy, able to influence referees with his propagandistic style."

Ovid (left midfield): "Great work-rate, though defensively suspect, the side's greatest technique and pacey as hell, should complement Caesar's qualities."

Virgil (central midfield): "Used to be a slim, tricky player, in his later days a player of gravity but lots of emotions, able to mix the rough and the magical."

ancient rome team Photograph: Toby Moses

There were so many other brilliant line-ups that we had to leave out – do take a look at the delightful thread, which included discussion of referees and even a wink to our own sports writers. And, as always, add your own or tell us what we’ve missed in the comments below. But let's close with a team from Magnusson which he promises will be "precise, efficient and beautiful in its simplicity":

coetzee 11 Photograph: Toby Moses

View the original article here

Saturday, August 2, 2014

A Treacherous Paradise by Henning Mankell review

Henning Mankell in Mozambique. Henning Mankell in Mozambique. Photograph: Björn Lindgren

Henning "Wallander" Mankell takes a fascinating historical fragment as the basis for this tale of Portuguese Africa. In the early 20th century, one of the biggest brothels in Lourenço Marques (now Mozambique's capital, Maputo) was owned by a white Swedish woman.

She crops up in tax records, but we know nothing else about her. Mankell names her Hanna and gives her a thoughtful nature (she "radiates an aura suggesting she is a totally genuine human being") and a harsh backstory: she grew up in Sweden's remote north, was pushed out by her poor family and ended up on a boat to Australia but never got there. The most successful parts of the novel portray the brutal, segregated life of Lourenço Marques – the black population lower their gaze to whites who may beat them for a slight, while the whites fear that outward pliability hides defiance. Hanna's decency is undermined by the society she finds herself in; when she embarks on a personal crusade, the town closes ranks. Mankell's writing can be drab but he tells a good story, and this is a grimly believable picture of how colonialism denigrates both servant and master.

• To order A Treacherous Paradise for £7.19 with free UK p&p call Guardian book service on 0330 333 6846 or go to

View the original article here

Friday, August 1, 2014

A Questionable Shape by Bennett Sims review Zombies in Louisiana

'It’s a buffet out there' … Zombies from the TV series Walking Dead. 'It’s a buffet out there' … Zombies from the TV series The Walking Dead. Photograph: AP

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is at the centre of a zombie outbreak. For now the authorities are coping – just – rounding up the undead and quarantining them. But the imminent hurricane season threatens to unleash mayhem.

As the narrator, Michael, tells his girlfriend: "It's a buffet out there." Still, he risks being bitten to help his best friend look for his father, suspected of falling victim to undeath. There is very little gore in this highly unusual take on the zombie novel. Instead, Bennett Sims delivers a disquisition on the idea of the zombie, combining low and high culture in a firework display of extended metaphors, obscure vocabulary and intellectual sparks. With a heavy debt to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and vigorous nods to Nabokov, Heidegger, Tarkovsky, Shklovsky, Levinas and Proust, to mention a few, the book is ambitious and thought-provoking. Sims displays a positively Will Self-ish love of words (the illuminated head of the man on a "Walk" sign is "syncarpous and starlit, a perfect oval of refulgent drupelets") as he focuses in on the philosophical conundrum of undeath, seemingly yearning for its impossible state that is neither "Being" nor "Nothingness". An existentialist meditation.

To order A Questionable Shape for £6.39 with free UK p&p call Guardian book service on 0330 333 6846 or go to

View the original article here