Itchy's Summer Reads
After a page-turner? Check this out.
Hats off to Brandenberg by Graham Thomas
There's drinking, fighting and lots of acting in the 714 pages of the adventures of The Roxy Playhouse Irregulars (and if it sounds familiar that's because Itchy writes about the Roxy Bar and Screen a lot and the author is something of a fan) and if that's not sounding fun enough, don't worry because there's some more drinking. This is only book one and it's already crammed in so much in the way of thrills and action that it's impossible to write a short review of it. Needless to say that, as for most actors, it starts off about the money and ends up with explosions and fire. As with all epics, the characters are the reason you keep reading and it's easy to see why so many people are already eagerly awaiting the next installment - can you say '1815-style sex scenes'? Without the diseases and such, of course. Pick it up online where it's already gathering a tonne of positive feedback and promises to be something of a summer hit. It's easy to pick up, hard to put down and difficult to carry around... Did we mention it's 714 pages? But it's entirely worth it and you'll not need another book until New Years (Itchy promises to find you some more before Christmas).
Pick it up... If you need something that will last all summer and not get dull
Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
One day the letter 'Z' falls off the ancient maxim that defines Ella's home island of Nollop. This may not seem to be a big deal but for Ella and her family the loss of a letter means their home, and entire way of life, is put at risk. In letters to her cousin, Tassie, Ella writes about how the pangram - The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog - that the High Council bases their all their decisions on, gradually destroys communication and community by literally falling apart. As the letters fall off the town statue characters are forced to change the names of days, and Tuesday becomes Toes, and eventually resort to complete nonsense - a lot like texting then. It's genuinely funny and will have you scanning pages for missed or errant letters, as well as wondering about your own use of 'extra' letters (does anyone really use 'q', apart from in Scrabble? ...Well, yes). It seems like this whole concept should have been written before but it's unique in its ideas so pick it up from Amazon if you want a brilliant read that raises a lot of questions (see, the letter 'q').
Pick it up... For something intellectual and challenging but still fun
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Cathrynne M. Valente
When Neil Gaiman praises a book for having "A glorious balancing act between moderism and the Victorian Fairy Tale" on Amazon, America (the book was released a year ago in the US) then the standards are going to be pretty high. The story of September was originially a children's book but its' whimsy and slightly dark edge make it new classic that even your gran would enjoy - not that you should make her read it. She can get her own books. As the little September makes new friends and battles to save Fairyland, and herself, in traditional fairy tale style, you can't help but remember all the books you read as a child. You may not recapture all those bedtime-story-moments but you will keep it on the shelves for your inner child. Go find it on the Amazon, UK site and read all the five star reviews that it's already picking up - every last one of them is deserved. Itchy may not be a huge poetry fan but this book reads like song lyrics without a tune and it's perfect for tucking up in bed with late at night (only some scary monsters, nothing terrifying).
Pick it up... When you need a fix of magic and mischief, regardless of your age
The Youngstars by Ursula Jones
Okay, Itchy is guilty of having picked another book 'technically' meant for children but since they're all playing console games and wearing hoodies there should be some copies left for our readers. Ollie is a teenage performer, one of six in a troupe that routinely suffers at the hands of their 'manager'. It's a more sinister Blyton-esque mystery story but without the smugglers... Or a dog. Ursula Jones has a good record of children's books under her belt aready and her engaging language and likeable characters make her writing a nice break from the general horror and toil of adult fiction. Ollie and his doppleganger (no prizes for who that turns out to be), meet in Liverpool in 1936 and he stammers his way through all those pains of growing up that you'll be glad you left behind. This book is for everyone who wanted to run away and join the circus when they turned 13 and never got to live out that dream... Itchy still hasn't learnt how to juggle. If you want to recapture your old dreams pick up The Youngstars online and remember, you can always make it a birthday present for a young family member. Bet you end up buying another copy though.
Pick it up... Because it's delightfully easy to read and everyone needs a happy ending sometimes
Embracing You, Embracing Me by Michelle Bellon
The 90s may not seem like a generation ago but Generation X and Roshell have issues that traverse the years and speak to anyone who has wanted desperately to be someone else, somewhere else. It's basically a coming of age story in a trailer park in America but child advocate Michelle Belllon adds such depth, in her development of a protangonist and with exrcepts from other characters. The third person perspective and inevitable crash of the first love make for some great self reflection for readers, but beware as you may find yourself looking at parts of your inner teenager that you were grateful to leave behind. Itchy certainly has some memories of vodka bottles and exes that could do with erasing. It's also about coming to terms with who you are, and understanding how those mistakes defined you (although in the case of the vodka, it probably only defined who little Itchy now drinks it). As with all good books you can find it prettily easily online but after you've finished it you may want to take a break before chasing up Ms Bellon's other books... They'll put your emotions through the wringer even more thoroughly.
Pick it up... But be prepared to feel the pain and cry a little
There you go, a complete mini collection of up-and-coming and established authours, with talent in all areas of fiction. If you think we've missed a great book then send us an email or make a suggestion and we'll track down a copy to review. After all there's always Christmas...