IMG_0812It’s that time again, dear readers. I’ve happily served as the Hand To The Queen, MAUREEN JOHNSON, but now it’s time to make a play for the crown once again. Nominations are open for QUEEN OF TEEN 2014!

The 2012 ceremony was the best fun EVER so I’d LOVE to be nominated again, and who knows, maybe even snatch the crown. Last time, we got to ride in limos, eat tiny pink foodstuffs and I got to hang out with loads of other cool authors.

At the time there was GREAT CONTROVERSY over having a BOYQUEEN, but I think it’s all in terribly good humour and, at the end of the day, I am a massive, massive queen. Having a crown up on my head would merely cement a fact penciled in since birth.

You can nominate me in the first round of voting at www.queenofteen.co.uk.

But why should you nominate me? Here’s my Queenifesto:

1. If you liked my books. Seriously. I do so hate it when things become a popularity contest.

2. “If I were a tree, I’d have good strong roots in a community like the UKYA world; a hollow trunk full of books; and long leafy branches to provide shade for bookish kids on a hot summer day”.

3. I would use my reign for GOOD. Having a BOYQUEEN would (inevitably) attract attention and I could use that to talk about ISSUES. I’m an activist at heart and will happily talk to anyone who will listen about school libraries, Gove, gendered kid’s books and spreading the good works of UKYA authors far and wide.

4. Having a BOYQUEEN would be weird and I’m all for visibility of weird people. I totes am one.

5. I could ride a pumpkin up and down the country and do lots of royal school  visits. I’d probably get a corgi too.

So make you voice be heard! There is a first round of nominations, and then proper, Hunger Games style fighting starts in May before the big ceremony in July. Who will be your queen in ’14?!


James x

PHBC: Dream Date by Sinclair Smith

DreamDateWhat’s it all about?

New girl on campus, Katie Shaw, longs for her life to be filled with sexyfuntime so when she dreams up dangerously charming Heath Granger in her sleep she thinks he’s wonderful. However, when her waking life starts to take off and she meets hunkomatic Jason Miller, Heath starts to exhibit a more jealous side, putting Katie and Jason in TERRIBLE DANGER.

Terrible Danger?

Yes, siree. Heath is basically Freddy Krueger if Freddy Krueger was clever enough to have the skin off his ass grafted onto his face and buy a motorcycle. Heath goes to prove that girls will do anything for a ‘wicked but charming’ smile and he’s also able to mess with Katie’s waking life – causing fires, hallucinations, accidents and slowly taking over her body.

The Girl

Katie starts off well. It doesn’t last. Her first encounter with Jason is sweetly tongue-tied and awkward and the reader has sympathy for her insomnia. Sadly, once she meets Heath you can’t help but think she’s an idiot. The man is so classically villainous it’s a wonder he’s not in a cape. It takes our early Rihanna prototype a frustrating amount of time to realise he’s evil during which time you lose faith with her. Also, although Heath is a dream, she does kinda two-time him with Jason. You almost have to feel sorry for the poor psycho.

IMG_2910The Love Interest

Let’s look at Heath first: ‘His thick dark hair was wind-blown from the ride, and he had very dark eyes that made a person feel he saw a lot more with them than just how someone looked.’ Erm…what?

He’s so creepy in the first instance that it’s a wonder Katie wasn’t dreaming herself up a chip-pan fire to get away from him. And that’s before we even start on the ‘jungle cat’ thing…

Jason is genuinely hot with his ‘thick, sandy brown hair, lean, muscular arms and amazing eyes’ (it doesn’t say HOW they’re amazing, but I’m guessing they cry milk). From the Heartthrob board game, Jason gets PHILIP.

Dialogue Disasters

Love’s Raging Passion? Hey I’d like some of that!’

Heath is so high maintenance: ‘Katie, a lot of girls just don’t understand me and that’s why they’re not special enough for me.’

‘By the way, your outfit is very fashionable.’ (Katie is a fan of the SWEATER DRESS).

Heath again: ‘You see this? It’s just like me – the jungle cat. I’m too slick and too fast and too smooth for you. Because I’ve got the wits of the jungle cat and you can’t match ’em.’ The man is basically Kanye.

And a big shout out for Jason’s poem: ‘A rose is beautiful, so are diamonds and pearls, Katie Shaw, would you be my girl?’ (‘If I’m not a prize winning poet, it’s the thought that counts’. Counting the thoughts behind that shit did not take long.)

Body Count: 1

Did the best friend do it? There’s nothing to do, as it were.

Some Mild Peril?

There are some fairly scary bits actually. Elm Street taught us that losing control of something as fundamental as sleep is intrinsically scary. The middle section where Katie decides to stay awake and starts to hallucinate is pretty scary – she sees her face melt off, insects hatch out of her skin, faces at her kitchen window. All pretty effective. It’s a shame Heath himself isn’t more threatening.

Is it any good?

It could have been. Although this plot (evil genie) was done far, far better in The Cheerleader, there was a story to tell about nightmares within the Point Horror range. Where it fails is that Heath is never charming, so it makes no sense for Katie to fall for him in the first instance. The back and forth into the dream world actually becomes quite repetitive and, dare I say, dull. Things definitely pick up in the second half once Heath becomes out and out Krueger like. I wish more had been done with the dream world – it’s a book, Smith, there’s no budget – it doesn’t have to exist on one bloody back porch.

That said, there’s some nice teen messages in there about abusive relationships (which Katie certainly has with Heath) it’s just not particularly subtle. Snaps also to Smith for toying with a ‘is Katie just plain batshit’ twist at the end.

Finally, I can’t decide if the ambiguity of the ending (what Heath plans to do with the ‘dream energy’) works or not. Even Heath ponders why he doesn’t seek more victims. Why is he tied to just Katie? The house? Her age? Am I overthinking a Point Horror book? Definitely.

41SA3EJ197LNext up, following our first reader poll, you’ve chosen to delve into THE YEARBOOK by Peter Lerangis!

Over to you:

1. What is the significance of the Mexican crisp bowl which is described for no reason?

2. Other than Psycho, which other Hitchcock films do you think Jason brought over?

3. Who’s more high maintenance…Heath or Raquel?

4. How, exactly, did Heath remain in the dreamworld and where did he go?

5. Katie Shaw…innocent victim or delusional fantasist?