It's happened to all of us. We finish a book - maybe even a whole series - and we are SO not ready to have it end, but it did, and now we're bereft. "What do I read NOW?" we cry, vainly seeking the next literary fix. Worry no more, my friends - I've got suggestions for kids through - erm - well, I don't tend to put upper age limits on things, so just consider that open-ended. Or what if your son/daughter/whoever is ready to move up a level but still wants the same topic? Some suggestions for that too. But why am I doing this post now? Well, last time I checked, it is prime shopping season for holiday gifts, so if you're stumped for the readers in your life (okay, okay, including yourself) then take a peek at the following:
If they liked... A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
Try: The Secret Series by Pseudonymous Bosch
Aside from the author having possibly the best pen name in the business, this series shares a similarly snarky sense of humour, authorial asides and mysterious identity, and appealing pre-teen main characters (one female, one male, with another male for some of them). Currently four books, projected to end at five (one for each of the five senses).
Or: Circles of Heck series by Dale E. Basye
More fun snark, and wordplay par excellence (my favourite - pitchsporks!), though kids may not get all the references (like the names of the main characters, Milton and Marlo Fauster, or the kid they meet upon arrival in Heck - yep, you guessed it, he's called Virgil). Currently three books available, with the fourth, Fibble, projected for a May release.
If they liked... Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
Try: The Cronus Chronicles by Anne Ursu
Once again the Greek myths are alive and well in the present-day, though our main characters don't have any blood relation to them this time. Charlotte (an American) and her English cousin Zee (short for Zachary, but he doesn't like it), both 13 years old, and aided by their English teacher Mr. Metos, are pitted against all manner of nasties in this trilogy (oh, but there's quite a sweet kitty as well).
Or: Pandora series by Carolyn Hennesy
Yeah, that Pandora. These are set in actual good-old-Greece, though dialogue and social mores are updated to more or less modern standards. After the infamous release of the bad stuff in the box, Pandy and her BFFs Alcie and Iole are dispatched to recapture them. Currently four available; I'm assuming there will be seven.
Or: oh. my. gods. by Tera Lynn Childs
For the girls who read Percy and are teenagers now, this series (currently two) takes hotshot runner Phoebe to a strange Greek boarding school when her mother marries - yeah, actually,I'm not going to give stuff away here, other than to remind you that Nike wasn't always just a brand of athletic gear.
Or: Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips
This one is for grownups who either read Percy with their kids and got into the Greek-myths thing, or for those like me who just read kidstuff for the pure pleasure of it but still enjoy more adult fare sometimes. In fact, I bought this one for the Tart when we were in Scotland. Anyway, Greek-gods-alive-and-well-in-modern-times, check - errm, actually, make that not-so-well. They're crammed into a moldering old house in London and doing strange things to make ends meet, like walking dogs and running phone-sex lines. Then they hire a housekeeper, and - I'm just going to make an Orpheus reference here and leave it, because I'm supposed to be teasing you all into buying this stuff (hey, I do work at a bookstore).
If they liked... Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (duh)
Try: Erec Rex by Kaza Kingsley
I've mentioned this series before (see my Here, There Be Dragons post), but I really am very fond of it and think it needs a wider audience, so help me out here folks, get your kids hooked on it, okay? ;-)
Or: Septimus Heap by Angie Sage
Mistaken identity, magic and royalty, time travel and necromancy and oh yeah, DRAGON! In other words, this series is absolutely full of pretty much everything I like. There are currently five books, and I haven't found any hint of more, though the series doesn't seem to have come to any definitive end, so hey, Angie Sage, if you read this, more please!
Or: The Tapestry series by Henry Neff
This one starts out like an American version of Hogwarts, but quickly deepens into its own story. Max's mother disappears mysteriously, then he gets swept off to Rowan Academy, and - I'm going to do exactly what I did above and cut off in the middle of the explanation (besides, the third one just came out and I haven't read it yet - gonna buy it today though). It does get quite dark though, so keep that in mind if your kids are little.
Or: absolutely anything written by Diana Wynne Jones
She's awesome. I adore everything of hers I've ever read, and have for over twenty years. She writes everything from sweeping high fantasy to total silliness, and covers an age range of about 7 to whenever (her adult titles have been particularly tricky to find, though). Most of her titles were reprinted here in the US in that long gap between Goblet and Phoenix, though some have disappeared again now. That's dumb. She rocks. Go get some.
If they liked... The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
Try: The Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld
I'm playing off the post-apocalyptic dystopian aspects in this list; all the entries are also approximately one age-group level higher (teen vs. young readers). In Westerfeld's vision, civilization's collapse was brought about by an oil-devouring microbe - no gas, no power, everything went haywire. In the rebuilt society, in order to level the playing field for people, everyone is given plastic surgery at the age of 16 - so that everyone is "pretty" and can therefore succeed. Except, of course, things don't work out like that...
Or: The Declaration by Gemma Malley
You thought China's one-child policy was bad? What if the only way to be permitted to have a child was to agree to die yourself? Humanity is now effectively immortal thanks to a drug called, appropriately enough, Longevity. With no death, there can be no new life or the world will become hopelessly overpopulated; any children born illegally are captured and placed in "surplus" homes, where they're constantly told that they shouldn't exist and they must work extra-hard to make up for it. Of course, rebellion ensues... (sequel is The Resistance).
Or: The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
Do I really have to talk too much about this one? It's huge. It's brilliant. It's Survivor meets Lord of the Flies, and yet so much more. It's also a very chilling view into what very well could happen to the US should things continue at their present pace...
If they liked... Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
Try: H.I.V.E. by Mark Walden
Talk about your anti-heroes - H.I.V.E. stands for "Higher Institute of Villainous Education", and it's where tomorrow's supervillains are being trained up. You've got hackers and cat burglars, martial arts experts and plants from hell, all mixed up and ready to wreak havoc. It has taken forever for this one to make it across the Pond (it's a British series and they're something like 3 or 4 volumes ahead), but it looks like the third one finally has a US pub date.
Or: The Genius trilogy by Catherine Jinks
Actually, the third one in this series took forever to make it to the US as well, but it's here now, at least in hardcover. Australian teenager Cadel is - well, he's another superhacker, but with some seriously messed up family stuff and a pretty warped worldview (at least at first). I confess, I haven't read the third one yet on this one either, but I flew through the first two.
If they liked... The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
Try: The Theodosia series by R. L. LaFevers
Theodosia likes nothing better than messing around with the Egyptian antiquities her parents bring back from archaeological expeditions. There are a couple of problems, however: number one is her exceedingly proper grandmother. The second is that she can sense the curses the objects carry...
Or: The Bartimaeus series by Jonathan Stroud
While not necessarily Egyptian, everybody's favourite wise-cracking djinn does have a wealth of knowledge of ancient civilizations that he's more than happy to share. After a hiatus of about 4 years, Bartimaeus recently returned to print in a fourth volume set loooong before the original trilogy (no spoilers...).
Getting a little more general for the adults, moving more into the range of authors rather than specific titles. Once again, I'm leading with something pretty popular and recommending lesser-known works that I feel should be better-known. 'Cause they're like, y'know, good 'n' stuff, ne?
If they liked... Alice Hoffman
Try: Keith Donohue
Magical realism is the tie-in here - Donohue's two books are both wonderful tales, beautifully told.
If they liked... Diana Gabaldon
Try: Robertson Davies
Okay, no Scotsmen here; however, this late great Canadian writer penned (or typed, I won't pretend I know which one) several fabulous trilogies (loosely connected - blink and you'll miss the link) with similar scope and breadth (not to mention some utterly fabulous character names - Liselotte Vitzliputzli comes to mind...).
Or: Kate Mosse
Erm, no, not the model. Think southern France, reincarnation (maybe), historical calamities - oh, and a nice high page count.
If they liked... Philippa Gregory
Try: Susan Carroll
For those who just can't get enough of that old-time English royalty.
If they liked: Elizabeth George
Try: Ian Rankin
Gritty detecting on the streets of Edinburgh with Inspector John Rebus.
Or: Denise Mina
Less than an hour west by train (I know, I've done it), Glasgow comes to life in these mysteries.
I could honestly continue this post indefinitely, if it weren't for two things:
1) who would read it all?
2) my internet was out all evening and I'm scrambling to finish it before I fall asleep.
So, if you've got any "but hey, what about (fill in the blank)?" for me, just say so and I'll answer in the comments and edit in the good ones. Happy reading to all, and to all a good night! (or something like that)