The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins www.suzannecollinsbooks.com/This book deserves all the hype it got - it is a refreshing concept, a twist in reality which could easily happen. I am not someone who enjoys fly on the wall shows like Big Brother, and yet in a strange way I like this - real people forced to fight in a gladiator-like scenario, to kill all their opposing competitors, to keep themselves alive, to keep their families fed & out of prison, purely for the entertainment of the vapid people of the Capitol and to prove to the population that the government is in control at all times.
The central character Katniss is feisty, trusts almost no-one and is incredibly resourceful, and yet there is a naive side to her, she doesn't realise the effect she has on people, how she charms them and inspires them. She has honed her skills hunting & poaching to keep her family fed, and she is thrown into the games when her little sister is picked as a competitor & Katniss volunteers go in her place. There is a Romeo & Juliet thread to the story, modern though it is (this tale surely qualifies as science fiction) and as it blossoms into book 2 : Catching Fire I find I cannot stop reading because the elements of secrecy and rebellion which unfold are so compelling.
Friends & Rivals : Tilly Bagshawe
This book revolves around the music industry, both in USA & the UK. It somehow manages to channel Jackie Collins' rich, glitzy bitching style whilst also weaving in some good old fashioned family values, village life & insecurities about love and life 'a la' Jilly Cooper. It was a great big romantic, saucy & glamorous read, which would be ideal for taking on holiday to lose yourself in whilst lazing by the pool.
It is written with authority, it is very current and there are plenty of characters in it who are thinly veiled versions of real music industry celebrities. If "bonkbuster" is still a genre, this book fits it - the characters are not very likable but if you love to read about rivalry & squabbling, you will enjoy this!
I have previously read another of Tilly's books "Fame" which is equally escapist, racy & fun but which revolves round the film industry - I can recommend that too!