This time, we’re looking at non-fiction- or more specifically, books about books and the talented people who write them! Then, we narrow our list of upcoming young adult fiction down to just three titles that we really cannot wait to read. Let’s begin!
Books on books
The Novel of the Century: The Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables by David Bellos, released 26th Jaunary 2017
Les Miserables, written in French in the 1860s, is around 500 pages longer than the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy. Yet ‘Les Mis’ is one of the longest-running and best-loved West End musicals; Anne Hathaway won Best Supporting Actress at the Academy Awards for her role in the 2012 film adaptation, and a new TV version will be shown on the BBC this year. Author Victor Hugo used the story of fictional bread thief Jean Valjean to highlight the many injustices faced by the poor; with child poverty and hunger set to rise in 2017, it’s easy to see how the book has endured for almost two centuries. Hugo was forced into exile after he insulted the Emperor Napoleon, and the publication of Les Mis put him in great danger. In The Novel of the Century David Bellos, a professor of French at Princeton University, describes how Hugo’s critics chanted “Down with Jean Valjean!” as they smashed his windows and tried to burn his house down! Sing along with Les Miserables: the 10th Anniversary Concert (DVD LOBBY 791.436) to get into the revolutionary spirit!
Victor Hugo had already written Notre-Dame de Paris before the release of Les Miserables- it’s known in English as The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Rise of the Dungeon Master: Gary Gygax and the Creation of D&D by David Kushner and Koren Shadmi, released 9th May 2017
Even if you’ve never played Dungeons and Dragons, we’re sure you can picture the basics: a twenty-sided die, some miniature metal warriors, and a group of over-excited nerds wielding sheets of paper and cans of mountain dew. You’re not entirely wrong, but you might not know that Dame Judi Dench, Vin Diesel, Deborah Ann Woll and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson are amongst the millions of people that regularly meet to play D&D. Author David Kushner’s biography Masters of Doom tells the story of the “Two Johns”, the best friends behind the Doom videogame franchise; illustrator Korem Shadmi worked on Mike’s Place, a non-fiction graphic novel about filmmakers caught in a terrorist attack. Their previous subjects all share a passion for hobbies that borders on insanity, so who better to write about gaming granddaddy Gary Gygax? Gygax’s story isn’t that unusual: a lonely child, frequently lost in an imaginary world, grows into a creative and obsessive adult with brilliant ideas but no head for business! As he struggles to work with partners who want to capitalise on players’ imaginations, parents and churchgoers begin to suspect that their kids are in danger from the fictional monsters, demons and wizards they play after school. No images from Rise of the Dungeon Master have been released yet, but films like Almost Famous (DVD LOBBY 791.43) Girl, Interrupted and Dazed and Confused paint a clear picture of life for both the ‘in’ and the ‘out’ crowd in the 1970s. Last year’s cult series Stranger Things pitted dungeon master Mike against a real life Demogorgon…maybe 2017 will be the year the game goes mainstream!
Millions of us play D&D- how many of us know its backstory?
Legendary Authors and the Clothes They Wore by Terry Newman, released 27th July 2017
There’s still a while to go until this book is released, so details are few and far between. However, we can tell you that this oversized photobook will profile 50 authors and their signature looks, from Jazz Age icon Zelda Fitzgerald to Edward Gorey, who liked to wear fur coats and Converses! Reality stars, A-Listers and vloggers all have Instagram accounts where they can share their favourite make-up, hair and clothing brands, but authors are traditionally known for their brains and not their beauty. We say, why not both? Wire-rimmed glasses seem to be back in fashion- perhaps a nod to Irish author James Joyce? Perhaps not.
On trend even in death: James Joyce and his wire-rimmed glasses
A List of Cages by Robin Roe, released 10th January 2017
Counsellor Robin Roe’s debut novel is told from the POV of 18 year old Adam Blake. Adam has ADHD, but his mother has refused to let his school treat him as a ‘write-off’. He earns a coveted placement in his final year, assisting the school psychiatrist with other “troubled” kids, and is assigned to track down a boy who hasn’t turned up for his counselling sessions. He turns out to be Adam’s former foster brother Julian, who was adopted by his uncle several years ago. Julian is meant to be receiving help after the death of his parents, but it’s immediately obviously to Adam that he’s suffering from physical and maybe psychological abuse. We’re interested to see how Adam will confront the “experts” in charge of Julian’s care, and how those adults will respond to “that teen with ADHD”. It’s clear that Roe is keen to emphasise the impact that supportive friends and parents can have on a young person with mental differences: Julian’s dyslexia has held him back in school, whereas Adam has exceeded the low expectations set by his medical diagnosis. You can find a number of books about emotional and behavioural disorders in our QUICK READS section, like Holly Bourne’s Am I Normal Yet? and When Mr Dog Bites by Costa Award winner Brian Conaghan.
Is Adam’s bond with his foster brother enough to save him from a cycle of abuse?
A Psalm for Lost Girls by Katie Bayerl, released 14th March 2017
Tess de Costa was supposedly a teenage miracle worker, and when a long-lost girl turns up unharmed at her graveside shrine, the people of New Avon decide to petition for the Pope to grant her a Sainthood. Tess’ sister Callie can’t come to terms with her sister’s death, and enlists Tess’s ex-boyfriend to help her show the town that Tess was loving, kind, intelligent- and utterly unremarkable. The missing girl’s kidnapper is still at large and as the town becomes the big ring in a media circus, Callie is left wondering what price her sister paid for her saintly ‘powers’. First time author Katie Bayerl is a creative writing teacher who, according to her website, based Tess and Callie on her cats! We recommend Jenny Valentine’s Finding Violet Park and Philip Pullman’s The Broken Bridge (both in EXPRESS FICTION) to readers who like to unravel family histories.
When a missing girl is found at a memorial for miracle teen Tess, the townsfolk of New Avon go a tiny bit overboard!
One of Us Is Lying by Karen M McManus, released 30th May 2017
Goodreads recommends One of Us Is Lying to fans of dramas like Pretty Little Liars and How to Get Away with Murder, but there’s definitely something Sherlockian about this story, which takes place during a Monday afternoon detention at a regular American High School. Four teenagers- one prom queen, one athlete, one nerd and one dealer- are threatened by inmate number five, Simon, the mastermind behind a gossip app that nobody wants to feature in. He doesn’t leave the classroom alive. Which one of the students killed him, and how- and why? The novel is written from each character’s point of view, which means that no-one can be trusted to narrate their tale truthfully. Early reviewers have praised the author for subverting predictable stereotypes and timing each big reveal to confound the reader! If you like solving cases quickly, try The Double Clue and Other Poirot Stories from our QUICK READS collection.
Detention: boring, but not usually deadly.
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Hazard, M (2013) Lego Dungeons and Dragons- Our first step Available at: https://flic.kr/p/hMdo3G (Accessed: 6 January 2017)
M S (2009) James Joyce grave 3 Available at: https://flic.kr/p/6QbjDj (Accessed: 6 January 2017)
Ojeda, C (2011) 015-Quasimodo salvando a Esmeralda-Notre-Dame de Paris 1844- edicion Perrotin Garnier Frères Available at: https://flic.kr/p/9oCjZX (Accessed: 6 January 2017)
O’Mara, K (2007) Spring Break Available at: https://flic.kr/p/CKUJ5 (Accessed: 6 January 2017)
Stef (2007) Shrine Available at: https://flic.kr/p/33BVhi (Accessed: 6 January 2017)
Teeejayy (2010) brothers Available at: https://flic.kr/p/7DonP4 (Accessed: 6 January 2017)