What I’ve Been Reading Lately: Belated Summer Edition

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The Long Weekend By Savita Kalhan

The Long WeekendThe Long Weekend by Savita Kalhan was one of those books where I really didn’t know what to expect. In the beginning I was a little nervous about how I would like this one because it seemed to be a middle grade read with younger protagonists but I wanted to give it a try because Melissa had said such good things about it and I thought the premise was pretty creepy.

The Long Weekend is frightening. Not in a jumpy slasher film type of way but in the kind of way you get frightened when you sit down and watch the news for a few minutes. It’s totally plausible, makes you fear for the children in your life and makes you thoroughly disgusted with the capability of the human race. This book may be short but doesn’t lack in intensity. Two eleven year old boys, unsure of who is picking them up from school, get into the car of who they both assume to be the others parent. They are both horribly wrong….and they realize that as the weekend begins to unfold.

Through the beginning of this book I kept thinking it was definitely for middle grade students but as I kept reading I realized that the content would definitely not be appropriate for a younger reader. It’s not inappropriate or anything…it’s just frightening and deals with some more mature content as the story goes on. I would definitely take caution and read this before giving it to younger readers. I was SO impressed with the way that the author carefully and tactfully dealt with a certain situation in the book. It wasn’t explicit but you could very much deduce what had happened…and that’s all you needed. Anything more and you would be sick to your stomach. This book is thrilling and definitely horrifying..but not so much that you can’t stomach it. As I said, I’m really impressed with how carefully crafted this story was.

The most shining aspect of this book– Sam –the eyes through which we see this incredibly scary event. I felt that Savita nailed it with him. He felt genuine and very much like an 11 year old. He wasn’t too smart for his age, his feelings and fears were that of what you’d expect an 11 year old to have and he was just absolutely endearing. You find yourself rooting for the best possibly outcome for him and feel as though you want to just hug him if he makes it out of this ordeal.

My final thought: Don’t be fooled by the fact that the protagonists are young — this book is thrilling and deals with some mature and terrifying subject matter that will make your skin crawl because you KNOW it could happen.

Savita is awesome and is going to give one of you lovelies a chance to win a copy for yourself! Just leave me a comment and tell me either something that makes you cringe when you watch the news OR tell me, as Savita did below, a book that you think would be great for reluctant readers!


This blog tour is hosted by Melissa at I Swim For Oceans. Go check out the rest of the blogs on the tour! I have Savita Kalhan here to participate in a special top ten list as you all know my love for top tens (a la Top Ten Tuesday)…and today is Tuesday! Because I’d consider The Long Weekend to be a good pick for reluctant readers (especially teen boys)…Savita is going to share her list of Top Ten Books For Reluctant Readers!

Hi Jamie! Thanks so much for inviting me here today.
The blog tour for my book The Long Weekend has just kicked off and it’s a really exciting time! You asked me for a list of my top ten books for reluctant readers, so I put my thinking cap on and came up with the books below. Generally I think easy-to-read thrillers, short stories, books that combine action and adventure, whether they’re straight fiction or fantasy, are great starting points for reluctant readers. Once you find the right books for you, the right genre and style, the rest is easy!
I will just say that I do find doing a top ten list pretty hard as I hate to think that I might have missed out something really important! But here goes…
Top Ten Books for Reluctant Readers – boys and girls
The Cherub Series – Robert Muchamore
The Cherub series combines action and adventure, both essential ingredients in enticing reluctant readers to become committed readers. They feature a group of difficult or orphaned kids who are invited to join a secret organisation called CHERUB, which trains them to go on missions where kids can go more easily than adults. The series is highly addictive and easy to read, the characters are great, and the stories are full of danger and suspense and appeal to both boys and girls.
Thirteen Treasures, Thirteen Secrets and now Thirteen Curses – Michelle Harrison
If you like a bit of a fairy story then look no further than this series by Michelle Harrison. The books are suitable for age 9 upwards. I don’t think you’re ever too old for a fairy story! I’ve read them all and thoroughly enjoyed them!
Diana Wynne-Jones’ The Enchanted Glass is very good too, as is the brilliant Troll Trilogy by Katherine Langrish, which is about an orphaned boy called Peer.
Anthony Horowitz – collection of short stories
Short stories are a great way to encourage reluctant readers who are often put off by the size and length of a book. Horowitz’s collections are entertaining and very readable. His longer books in the Alex Rider series and the Power of Five are good fun too.
Noughts and Crosses – Malorie Blackman
This series is excellent. The books are well written, and easy to read, moving and challenging in their storyline. I highly recommend them. Blackman’s other works including, The Stuff of Nightmares and her new book Boys Don’t Cry, are great for reluctant readers too. They are easy to read and combine great stories and great writing – all with a thought-provoking edge, but maybe not suitable for younger readers.
Flush – Carl Hiiasen
So easy to read and get into, all his books for kids also have an ecological or environmental aspect to them. I’ve read three of them – Flush, Hoot and Scat, and they are great for reluctant younger readers for boys and girls.
The Demonata – Darren Shan
Darren Shan is the master of horror writing, so if you’re into demons and monsters and are looking for a good read then look no further. He has written a couple of series, and all the books are easy reads – unless you’re a scaredy-cat like me! Alexander Gordon Smith’s Lockdown series is another series that’s very good and so easy to read and be absorbed by.
Chronicles of an Ancient Darkness – Michelle Paver
This is a great series for younger reluctant readers, boys and girls. It’s set in an ancient time when people lived in clans, hunted for their food, and when faced with evil spirits, were forced to fight to preserve their way of life. The books hook the reader very quickly, they are not long, and they are easy to read.
The Road of the Dead – Kevin Brooks
Kevin Brooks writes for teens and this book in particular is easily accessible to reluctant readers. It’s essentially a thriller set in England about two brothers whose father has died, but behind his death lies a mystery that involves a group of travellers and a strange secluded village. His new book iBoy, is also very accessible – fast paced and full of action.
Boy in the Burning House – Tim Wynne-Jones
This is another thriller. It’s set in Australia about a boy whose father has gone missing and is presumed dead, who befriends a girl that everyone thinks is a little mad. It’s a great mystery and very easy to read.
Hidden – Miriam Halahmy
Hidden is hot off the press with a release date of 30th March. I have been lucky to get an advance copy – and it’s very good and very readable! Set on Hayling Island, an island off the south coast of England, it’s the story of a girl and a boy who save a drowning man and gets embroiled in a story of high drama involving an illegal refugee. The themes are topical, the dilemmas facing the character are well drawn out, and the books fast pace keeps you hooked. It’s the first in a cycle of three books.

 I’m going to sneak my book, The Long Weekend, in here, Jamie, as you said you would be recommending it to reluctant readers you know – thank you. It’s a thriller, it’s not too long, and it’s very hard to put down! Check out Jamie’s review and look near the end of this blog post for a chance to win a copy.
I wish anyone who has found reading hard to get into lots of luck. It simply is a matter of finding what you like and then giving it a good chance.

Review of The Diviner’s Tale by Bradford Morrow

The Diviner's TaleBook/Author: The Diviner’s Tale by Bradford Morrow
Publisher/Year: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – January 20, 2011
Genre: Adult Fiction — Mystery/Thriller
How I got this book: An e-galley from the publisher on NetGalley
Why I read it: I’m trying to read outside my normal genres and so I wanted to try a good mystery.

Cassandra Brooks, a diviner by trade and a single mother of two boys, is hired to dowse the land for a developer in search of a water source. She finds much more than that as she sees a young girl hanging from a tree. She rushes to call the police and returns to show them the body only to find it has disappeared or been removed. Known for being an outcast because of her trade, it is speculated that she just had a weird vision. The police bring her back to revisit the scene when a girl, identical to the hanging girl, is found wandering in the woods confused about where she is and refuses to answer questions. Who is this girl and what happened to her? Her visions and divinations uncover a bigger mystery that put her and her family in serious danger.

I don’t typically read mystery/thriller type books but this year I’m trying to discover new genres. I call myself an eclectic reader but there are some genres I just haven’t yet explored. I was craving a good mystery, and this one sounded really interesting, but I think I got a lot more than what I thought I’d get from this one! It was a lot more than a lady with some sort of psychic powers helping to solve crimes–all fun and reminiscent of various tv shows I’ve enjoyed. It deals with familial issues and truly accepting yourself. That all sounds corny but it just a lot deeper than your typical mystery/thriller (at least ones that I’ve read). It also had some incredible beautiful prose describing some of the natural world–which was a huge element of this story considering her profession. Basically what she does is walks about the land with a divining rod and listens to the land in order to find water sources and minerals and such.

The plot was interesting and there were plenty of twists and turns. Some of the things seemed very predictable (I don’t know if it’s just me because I always figure out “who dunit” during shows like CSI) and I think I would have felt a little unsatisfied had the book not had the kind of substance it did. I thought the various relationships were interesting and well explored and I really started to adore Cassandra. Nep, her father, was my favorite though!  I loved her relationship with her boys although it seemed like they took care of her but you could tell they just thought the world of their mom. The only thing that irked me was these boys seemed WAY to smart for their age. I’ve seen a lot of clever kids their age but they just seemed a little over the top.

My final thought: If you like your mystery/thriller books with a little more substance, beautiful prose and a dash of the supernatural, you will enjoy The Diviner’s Tale. The mystery of her visions and ability to sense things most can’t are just as interesting as figuring out all the tangible mysteries. If you are expecting a mystery/thriller that is mostly plot driven and has you on the edge of your seat every second of the book, you might want to look elsewhere as sometimes it was a slower pace. It wasn’t some action packed, twists and turns at every page type of novel. I really enjoyed it but I know it won’t be as fast paced as some readers like it.

Any other suggestions for mystery/thrillers with a little bit more substance like this one?

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