My Lockdown Books: Twenty Nine

Garth Nix is best known for his fantasy books.  Fantasy really isn’t my kind of genre.  The problem is that Garth Nix is my kind of writer.  I love the way he uses language to enmesh the reader in his story.  So I have to read his books.  Frogkisser! is a bit different though.  It’s a reworking of the whole concept of fairytales.  It’s powerful and funny and engrossing.  As I said in The Scotsman:

With no time to consult the books in the library, prepare a plan or collect provisions, Princess Anya is forced to start off on a dangerous, perhaps deadly, quest with only Ardent, one of the royal dogs, for company and support. As their journey progresses, the nature of the quest develops and grows until finally Anya accepts that only she can prevent a takeover by a group of wicked sorcerers. Frogkisser! is an exciting and entertaining modern twist on traditional fairytales by that master of storytelling Garth Nix.

Frogkisser! by Garth Nix

Here’s another excellent book from another superb storyteller.

With no time to consult the books in the library, prepare a plan or collect provisions, Princess Anya is forced to start off on a dangerous, perhaps deadly, quest with only Ardent, one of the royal dogs, for company and support. As their journey progresses, the nature of the quest develops and grows until finally Anya accepts that only she can prevent a takeover by a group of wicked sorcerers. Frogkisser! is an exciting and entertaining modern twist on traditional fairytales by that master of storytelling Garth Nix.

2012’s Bookshelf

The other day I was clearing out all the books I’ve received from publishers this year. Don’t worry; they all went to good homes. I dealt with the books for primary children first, as they were being given as prizes, and the picture books had already gone. So I was left with the teenage titles. One of my colleagues took them to pass on to a local organisation which is collecting gifts for young people who might not otherwise receive anything. Hopefully there will be lots of happy teenagers in Moray this Christmas.

But they’ll pretty much only be happy if they like dystopian novels or the paranormal/supernatural. Fairies, vampires, zombies, angels, werewolves and dark spirits of all kinds were clustered on my shelves. And I hate them all! I’ve never met one that I could enjoy reading about. I’m sure some of them are good books. In fact, I know they are. Take a bow, Joss Stirling. But I can’t get interested. Part of my problem is that I’m irritated by publishers jumping on the bandwagon and giving us more of the same – even when it’s badly written, plotted and populated. The dystopian novels aren’t quite as bad but I do think that they’re going the same way as authors run out of anything new to say. But Ally Condie’s Matched trilogy was interesting and I thought that Slated by Teri Terry was a great concept.

Once these genres were off my shelves, I was left with very little. Fortunately some of it was very good. Sophie McKenzie’s Missing trilogy was represented and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Similarly, I am loving Anne Cassidy’s Murder Notebooks. I’m surprised by both of these as I don’t particularly enjoy thrillers. But these are gripping without being a ridiculous strain on the nerves. More to my general taste were the historical novels by the likes of Mary Hoffman, Rosemary Sutcliff, Paul Dowswell and Marie-Louise Jensen, who is rapidly becoming a favourite of mine. And my small Australian collection: Garth Nix, Michael Gerard Bauer and Morris Gleitzman. I met the first two at the Edinburgh International Book Festival this year and they were as lovely as their books. (I’ve met Morris Gleitzman previously and he is too!)

Clearly there are other brilliant books out there and I do understand that publishing is a business and it needs to be commercially viable. But my wish for 2013 is that more publishers will be brave and take risks – and that they’ll keep sending me their books!