Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Two Tales of Suspense

It's time to catch up on recent reading. Now that school is out I have no excuse (except that I have to use the less-comfortable desktop computer for now and can't sit on my back porch, which is like a tree house hideaway). These will be brief notices, better than none. Maybe they will point one or two people to books they might not otherwise notice.
Geraldine Mccaughrean, the wonderful British author of Peter Pan in Scarlet, The Kite Rider, and lots more, has an Antarctic tale that will cool you off during hot summer days. The White Darkness is a fast paced tale of a teenage girl on a trip to Antarctica. Sym is fascinated by the story of a 19th century explorer Titus Oates and makes a trip to the Antarctic with her Uncle Victor. Her fascination with Oates, the growing psychological tension between the characters as Victor's obsession takes over the trip, and the stunning descriptions of the landscape make for a mesmerizing tale.

The late, great Jan Mark, another British writer somewhat neglected in the U.S., gave us an unusual story that falls into the science fiction slot but also has fine characterization and her always fine writing. The story is Useful Idiots and deals with an anthropological quest in a somewhat future England. Part of the mystery is the reader's, whose task is to figure out exactly what is going on.
Note: sometime this month the 2006 Carnegie Medal winners will be announced. I've been reading some of the books on the short list and can't wait to see which title wins. Visit the official site for back lists of nominations and winners.

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