What is normal anyway?

Sherry Cracker Gets Normal by D J Connell Sherry Cracker is not a normal girl – she’s a loner, loves tartan trousers, facts, and obsessively documents all the graffiti she sees around her town in her ‘OBSERVATIONS’ file. She works for Chinese businessman Mr Chin, in an office above the closed-down cinema, where they buy Read More

Book Group Report – In search of dragons …

Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch This story of young Jaffy Brown and his adventures, starting with an encounter with an escaped tiger, was another really good book group choice.  We all throroughly enjoyed this impeccably researched and ultimately rather gory tale of exploration and shipwreck in Victorian times. The Guardian’s review of the book tells Read More

Getting the right man for the job …

Republished into my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive – and for the 1968 club. True Grit by Charles Portis This was our Book Group choice for reading in March.  It’s fair to say that while no-one hated it, not everybody loved it like I did.  One thing that we were all agreed on Read More

3 from March 2011 – Handler – Reed – Fredericks

Adverbs by Daniel Handler – Lemony Snicket for Grown-ups 3 from March 2011 This author is best known as the writer of the fun Lemony Snicket series of novels for children.  I’ve read the first Lemony Snicket novel, and heard the audiobook narrated by Tim Curry, (I just love his voice!) and one day intend to read the rest of the Read More

Two 2011 reviews set during WWII: Fallada & Dogar

Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada Translated by Michael Hofmann I was put off reading this book for months, anticipating that it would be too difficult, too philosophical, too heavy; also that being 608 pages including appendices it would take too long to read.  I was wrong on all accounts. Alone in Berlin was written in just Read More

3 reviews from Jan 2011: Hornby, Jensen & Gaiman

Juliet Naked by Nick Hornby I don’t know how he does it, but there’s something about a Nick Hornby book that so hooks me, that I feel part of the story – I can always identify with some of the characters. Juliet Naked is the story of a lost rock star, a completist fan and his Read More

An author I’ll always look out for …

Daniel Woodrell …is barely known in this country, but has started to increase his profile a little with the release of a highly acclaimed film (it won at Sundance) made of his 2006 novel Winter’s Bone.  He’s actually written eight novels, all of them set in the area he knows best – the Missouri Ozarks – Read More

Sisters are doing it …

The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman Elv, Claire and Meg Story are sisters.  They’re extremely close, inventing a language all of their own – Arnish – even their mother is excluded from their fantasy world, and the younger two are always rapt with Elv’s storytelling about the fairy land of Arnelle.  Theirs is a world full Read More

Return of the Living Dead …

It’s that time of year again when I fit a few spooky novels into my October reading plans.  Last year I read only vampire stories – this year I’m ranging more widely for fearsome creatures and I’ve started off with a ‘Teen Gothic’ novel about werewolves… Claire De Lune by Christine Johnson Claire is just a Read More

Kill or cure

The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood (and the Duchess of Northumberland). The Duchess of Northumberland is the mastermind behind the wonderful Alnwick Garden adjoining her family’s ancestral pile, Alnwick Castle, in Northumberland. I visited last year and found it a wonderful attraction. One of the (many) highlights of the Garden is the Duchess’ special project Read More

You’ll never look at your neighbours in the same way again!

The Radleys by Matt Haig Don’t let the next sentences turn you off this book, for I thought it was brilliantly original and I loved it.  The Radleys is being given the full crossover novel treatment with a young adult edition, however I firmly believe that it is an adult book (pictured) that teens will enjoy rather than Read More

How can you cheat death when you’re only 14 …

The Death Defying Pepper Roux by Geraldine McCaughrean One of my friend Julia’s recommendations, this is yet another wonderful crossover book by children’s author Geraldine McCaughrean. Surely it must be her turn as Children’s Laureate soon … Imagine your aunt had prophesied that you would die at the age of fourteen, and worse still that Read More

One New Year a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love …

When the Snow Fell by Henning Mankell A coming of age novel set in a small lumber town in northern Sweden during the 1950s. Joel’s mother left when he was seven, so he’s grown up looking after himself and his father, who’s prone to the odd bender and never has any money. Joel has reached Read More

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Written as an intimate diary in letter form to an unknown addressee, this novel chronicles the first year in High School of Charlie. Charlie has a tendency to be rather passive, introspective, and prone to burst into tears; well – his best friend has recently committed suicide! Though quiet, Charlie is clever which is recognised Read More