15 December 2011

A Very Onion Christmas - Teen & YA

O come, all ye faithful, 
Joyful and triumphant, 
O come ye, 
O come ye to another Onion Christmas list... 

Behold - books that are sure to tempt the teenager in your life...

The Wilful Eye (Tales from the Tower Volume One) & The Wicked Wood  (Tales from the Tower Volume Two) Edited by Isobelle Carmody and Nan McNab  

First of all, we'll just give you a moment to be bowled over by the covers of this wondrous pair of tall volumes with their beautiful be-winged women... You won't even have to wrap them - they look almost exactly like Christmas presents already in their red and green finery. Now, on to the stories themselves - how to encapsulate the breathtaking result of combining the forces of a dozen formidable storytellers? Each story is a treat to savour, an escape to a different reality: dark, passionate, bewitching tales of obsession and mystery, and loaded with the remorseless resolution of fairytales. They're kick-arse stories, there's no denying it. Kick. Arse.

Who for? Well, not for the fainthearted! Any fan of fabulous fairytale retelling, aged 16 to 96, will luxuriate in this enchanted collection.

Drink, Slay Love by Sarah Beth Durst 

Pearl is your average teenage girl. Partial to car theft and high-speed driving. Confident unicorns DO. NOT. EXIST. And highly flammable in direct sunlight. Which is perfectly normal. For a vampire. Well, that is until a were-unicorn stabs her in the heart with his sparkly horn and her whole vampire world is turned upside-down. Tolerance to sunlight. Sympathy for her victims. Family conflict. High school politics. In other words: T-R-O-U-B-L-E. Twists - tick! Turns - tick! Clever - tick! Entertaining - tick! Funny - tick! Well-played, Ms Durst. Very well-played indeed.

Who for? 12-16 year old girls who are looking to escape into somebody else's life over the Christmas break.

Only Ever Always by Penni Russon 

Sometimes a gift is unwrapped, briefly regarded, then cast unceremoniously onto the I-will-never-care-for-that-item pile (otherwise known as ebay). But there are other times when a gift is so loved that you feel you may never be able to part from it - even if it's something you should have grown out of by now. Particularly if it was given to you by someone truly special.

In Only Ever Always, Clare has a music box given to her by her adored Uncle Charlie, and she's not sure she's ready to let it go - even though the intended recipient is Charlie's imminent new baby. Clare wants to cling to the music box, to childhood, for just a little longer. But then Charlie is in a terrible accident - and his life hangs in the balance. In her grief, Clare retreats into dreams and the music box transports her to another place, a broken place, where there is another girl, Clara, who is almost exactly like Clare, who is trying to survive in a broken world. Clare. And Clara. The dreamer and the dreamed.This book will stay with you long after you close the last page.

Who for? Any curious, thoughtful or philosophical reader in your life, especially those aged 12-16, and even more especially if you can sneak it off their Christmas pile - while they are distracted by post-gift-giving activities - and slip away somewhere quiet and curl up to enjoy this beautifully crafted little book.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Warning! If this is the first book you open on Christmas day, you may be in danger of missing Christmas lunch. It is intensely addictive! Once you start reading, you won't be able to stop. Set in a crumbling dystopian world, it is the story of 17-year-old Juliette, who possesses inexplicable powers. Electrifying romance. Heart-stopping adventure. IN-CRED-IB-LY high stakes... Now. Anxiously. Awaiting. Sequel!

Who for? 14-18 year old girls who once upon a time may have loved Twilight,* but have moved on to romance in any genre they can find it. Okay, and girls in their 20s. And we *ahem* definitely know girls in their 30s and 40s who would love it...

 If you're reading this book on a boiling hot Christmas day, you will still shiver as the cold wind the whips down the sand dunes.
If you're surrounded by annoying siblings and too many cousins, you will still feel Dow's solitude in your bones.
If you're reading this in the heart of a continent, you will still smell salt on the breeze and hear the treacherous roar of the ocean in turmoil.
Because Andrew McGahan's writing is so good it will transport you from the Land of Too-much-potato salad to the mysterious world of the Ship Kings. This is a brilliant sea-faring tale - there's blood on the decks and death in the wind. There's a mysterious girl. There's treachery and destiny and following your heart even when it seems impossible. And Dow's adventures are just beginning, so get on board, people.

Who for? 15-18-year-olds, mariners - ancient or otherwise, and Andrew McGahan fans of all ages everywhere.

Taken Away by Celine Kiernan   

On Christmas day, when everyone else is snoozing after eating too much, somtimes all you want to do is to escape. So be transported to Ireland. 1974. 15-year-old twin brothers Pat and Dom are living in their seaside holiday house after their demented nan burned down their actual house. It's not the same without all the cousins and aunts and uncles crammed in, and things soon take a turn for the CREEPY.
'It was a boy. Maybe ten years of age. White face. Dark, dark eyes, underscored with deep lines, surrounded with purple shadows...It took a moment for him to register my presence. Then his eyes jumped to mine. I flinched, terrified by the certainty that we'd done this before: me looking up at him; him looking down on me - a solemn-eyed boy of ten, untouched by the wind and rain...'

Who for? 13-16 year-olds and anyone who loves un-put-downable ghost stories, historical mysteries, fabulous characters you can love to pieces, or all of the above.

 Sensitive Creatures by Mandy Ord

If you have not yet had the heart-lifting-ly wonderful experience of meeting Mandy Ord's One-Eyed Girl, get thee to a book shop immediately. Read snippets in the store, then buy it and have it expertly wrapped and ready for your favourite someone to enjoy on Christmas day. Mandy is truly special - one of Australia's most exciting young comic artists, and this collection of stories offers an intimate portrait of her attempts to make sense of the world. Herewith rave reviews over at The Book Show, in The Age, twice.

It's about dogs and girlfriends and bums and hoodies and bogans and bearded men and one of our all-time favourites: mean people on trains.

Who for? Comics and graphic novel enthusiasts, Melbourne-reflected-on-the-page enthusiasts, wonder-of-life enthusiasts... and anyone who is inspired by vivid visual storytelling.

Always-and-ever favourites

Yellowcake  by Margo Lanagan

A Pocketful of Eyes by Lili Wilkinson

The Shattering by Karen Healey

Being Here by Barry Jonsberg

The Golden Day By Ursula Dubosarsky

* Yes, dear reader. Contrary to what the interwebs may have you believe, there are, like, eleventy bazillion readers out there who LOVED Twilight - regardless of what they may have said about it in public...

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