Posted by: Natalie Hatch | September 21, 2010

School Holiday Reading

Here in sunny (well rainy today but generally sunny) Queensland it’s school holiday time, and that means time to read, read, read – especially on wet days like today. So I’ve been busy reviewing a few books that I’d highly recommend people read this hols.

I Am Number 4 by Pittacus Lore

I must admit when I read the jacket blurb I immediately thought of the TV series Roswell, thinking this’ll be another rip off of a perfectly good storyline, but it wasn’t. There were a few things that perhaps could be compared but the story of John Smith and his struggles to stay alive against a deadly alien foe on the whole was fresh. I liked the fact that the back story was hinted at throughout the entire book and not just lumped together at the start. Some of the plot was predictable but the author was able to twist it in such a way that you didn’t quite know if it would happen. This book is optioned for a film and someone mentioned on another blog that it is being filmed at the moment, so we’ll see how that goes. I liked it, it wasn’t a don’t-put-this-book-down read but it did keep me reading.

Another Faust by Daniel and Diana Nayeri

The authors use the story of Faust and his deal with the devil and twist it in such a way that teens and adults will enjoy. The book centres around 5 fifteen yr olds and their governess Nicola (who just happens to have a wonky eyeball that turns fiery whenever she’s cranky). The teens have all left their original family and are trying to bond as a unit, sort of. They’re all competing for Nicola’s affections and use any and every method they can to get their own ways. What would happen if the devil came to you and offered you your hearts desire? Would it really be as twisted as this book suggests? Probably and I did enjoy how the characters came to realise that what they thought they’d signed on for was not what they were getting. Well done Diana and Daniel, it kept  me hooked.

Dull Boy by Sarah Cross

Oh here’s one that I really did like, a lot. If you suddenly develop superpowers at age 16 and couldn’t tell a soul in case the government tried to dissect you, how would you cope? You can’t tell your parents who think you’re just going through a phase, you can’t tell your friends who would think you’re a freak, what would you do?

Sarah has created likable characters that pull you into their problems. If you could fly and have super strength would you use it for good? Avery has to work out what he really wants to do with himself and who he can trust.

Highly recommend this book for a great holiday read.

and finally

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne-Jones

Okay now why have I never read this book? It’s been out for decades and I’ve never read it. What was I thinking? It was probably the 80s cover, yeuck, need to fix that one up for sure.

This book captivated me. The oldest daughter is bewitched into becoming a crone and has to find a way to reverse the spell while battling a tantrumy wizard, freeing a fire demon from its prison and ensuring that her younger sisters don’t get their hearts broken. What’s not to love. Diana is a marvelous storyteller, she’s now ranked up there with Terry Pratchett and David Eddings in my book. I am slowly going through her whole backlog of books. Marvelous writing, captivating story, enchanting characters. I didn’t want this book to end, seriously. I’m trying to find the rest in the series and anything else Diana has written. Two huge thumbs up as a great holiday read for this one. Oh and it’s been made into an anime, again where have I been hiding for the last few years? Must find the dvd and have a looksy.

So there’s a few reads to get you started, hope you have a great one.



  1. I just happened across Howl’s Moving Castle last week and felt exactly the same as you! I’ve got the next book in the series reserved at the library and can’t believe I haven’t been on the Wynne Jones bandwagon until now. I highly recommend this for readers of all ages (I’m in my 30’s).

  2. I know Nat, what have I been doing all these years? It must have been the 80s covers, not really what I would have checked out of the library. I’ve been told by Kirsty Eagar that the anime movie of Howl’s Moving Castle is superb. Will have to find a copy.
    And best thing is Diana has lots of books on her backlist, so much to get through and you know everyone of those books is going to be well written.

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