Thursday, July 31, 2014

Teens, Tweens and Reading In Between

A parent of teenagers told me the other day that boys are different because girls still need you while boys just grow away. I'm not she was right.  My boys are thoroughly grown, and they long since left home. But I'm honored to say they still need me, if only to build furniture, answer doors while they're out at work, pack boxes before the move and unpack them later, and advise on cleaning the loo. I'm not sure they thought they needed me when they were teens though. And it's interesting to read teen and tween fiction, to see how many heroes are orphans or have otherwise mislaid or been mislaid by their families. Perhaps it's like an older version of the "terrible twos," just learning mom's not attached to me and working out how far to stretch that freedom. Maybe teens have just reached that special age when they're learning they might be alone, and they need a story to show them alone is okay.

Anyway, I've read some teen and tween fiction, and child and adult fiction recently, and I'm way overdue to post reviews, so here goes. Grab your coffee. Check your brew.

Starting with a book for the smallest children, Julia Jane, In the Rain, written and illustrated by Audrey Muller, is a lovely fun tale, with just that perfect frisson of scary excitement for young children, and a nice wise message about listening to your mom. Enjoy with a well-brewed mild crisp one-star cup of coffee.

I have two books for tweens in this collection. First is The Mystery of Shadow Hills, by Carrie Cross, where 13-year-old Skylar is left at the mysterious home of her aunt and uncle and cousin while her parents tour Europe without her. (See, tween mislaid by parents!) The attic and the hills are off limits, but the wannabe Wiccan schoolfriend is fine, and it takes all Skylar's detecting skills, plus a few hints from friends, to work out what's really going on. Enjoy this sometimes scary, Malibu-atmospheric tale of very real young teens with a well-balanced smooth three-star coffee.

OMG, a CUL8R Time travel mystery/romance, by Bob Kat, tells the story of teens who find Edison's fabled spirit radio in a garage. The nerdy one develops an app for that, while lonely Kelly (recently orphaned, see above) dreams of rescuing everyone. And suddenly, just maybe, they can. A great ensemble cast, and the beginning of a really cool series, this has pitch-perfect dialog, enjoyable humor, and a nicely genuine depiction of differences between today and the world of the 1960s. Enjoy a well-balanced three-start coffee as you read.

For slightly older teens (and their parents), Incantation Paradox, by Annamaria Bazzi, looks at our changing times through the eyes of a mother who suddenly wakes up in the body of a modern teen. The author has a great sense of timing, hinting at possible explanations very quietly, and allowing the story to grow at its own pace. It's an intriguing tale of magic, romance and mystery, best enjoyed with an elegant, complex four-star coffee.

Racing the Hellfire Club, by Anita Stewart, is still in the editing stage, but look out for it; this sounds like the start of another really cool series, with plenty of steampunk, hints of romance, fascinating characters, and delightful echoes of Around the World in 80 Days. I really enjoyed it, and will recommend you drink some rich elegant 4-star coffee when it comes out.

For mature teens and young adults, Thunder on the Battlefields two volumes, Sword and Sorcery, edited by James R. Tuck, are great collections of, well, sword and sorcery; just what I loved to read in my teen days from Michael Moorcock and others. Enjoy with a tall mug of bold dark intense five-star coffee.

The Demeter Code, by Russell Brooks, offers action adventure of a much more present-day, earthbound, and earthy, kind, with threats of terrorism, biological disaster, and corruption in a tale of spies, their loves, their weapons and their wars. Various bedroom scenes might require a maturer audience, and some gory descriptions will surely go well with some bold, dark five-star coffee.

Finally, a short adult tale, just as suited to young adults or even teens, with clean, sweet romance and haunting love, Lucia's Bleeding Heart by Ronnie Ray Jenkins is lovely grown-up fairytale to treasure. Enjoy a smooth full-flavored three-star coffee as you read.

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