Archives for category: For Teen – Adult

Image result for Garvie smith books david fickling

Published by David Fickling Books

Well – what it is to work in the book industry. I was happily working away at my emails and came across one from David Fickling – would I like to read the latest Garvie Smith novel?

I think that you are probably aware that I’m a big fan of Garvie so the answer was a very quick affirmative. In due course a copy of Hey, Sherlock! arrived…

Garvie has now left school and has managed to land himself a job (the reasons for this I won’t go into) – putting up fences with his friends. It seems this isn’t one of his fortes – at the end of the job, it’s his section falls to the ground.

The owner of the house (and new fence), however, isn’t really that concerned. She’s more annoyed with her teenage daughter who has ‘gone off again’…but things aren’t what they seem.

The end of this period of Garvie’s life (it is best to read them in order, I think, if only for the character development) – had me on the edge of my seat in the tube. I nearly forgot to get off and get to work.

Garvie and his friends continue to entice and amuse. Garvie’s ‘people skills’ are still developing.  Inspector Singh, has all my sympathy and as for Garvie’s mother – well, there are developments there too – I’m not going to say more…

These are fantastic books.

My brother Peter, will be amused. I am not a natural ‘numbers’ person – however, though most of the time I don’t understand all the mathematics that Garvie thinks about:

‘He lay there unblinking, looking at the ceiling, thinking about mathematical sequences. In particular, recurring terms. Pascal’s triangle, for instance. The triangle is an infinite symmetric number pyramid, each number the sum of the two numbers immediately above it, starting with 1 at the apex. The strange thing is that the number 3003 keeps cropping up…’

Image result for fibonacci sequence in snail shellsI did, however, learn more about the Fibonacci sequence (1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34…) and how that works. I knew of it, but only as phrase to do with shapes in nature. Snail shells use it – amongst other wonders of the world. I can now write the sequence without thinking about it…

NB. Well it just shows you…I have just looked up Pascal’s sequence too…which looks as though it deserves more investigation…when I have a moment or two… Perhaps if someone had shown this to me when I was doing maths at school, I might have become more curious about it…

Just flipped to the front of my copy of Hey Sherlock! and noticed the following list – which really does, perhaps explain why I love Garvie Smith:

  1. Lazy, rude, golden-hearted, aggravating, economical with the truth, kind (to those who deserve it).
  2. Highest IQ at Marsh Academy
  3. Lowest grades.
  4. Best mates with Felix (cat burglar), Smudge (stupidest boy at school and proud of it), Alex (who’s been selling something he shouldn’t).
  5. Wouldn’t dream of telling his mother he loves her. Besides, she wants to move back to Barbados and what is the point of that?
  6. Smokes, mainly tobacco.
  7. Liked by girls.
  8. Hated by the police, teachers, other boring adults.
  9. Exceptionally good at maths.
  10. Scared of dogs.

Perhaps its a good thing he’s a fictional character. Otherwise I think I would worry…






Image result for bog child siobhan dowd

Published by David Fickling Books

Engrossing. Moving. Bog Child is a story of obligation. Fear. Tradition. Love. A time and place of confrontation. Fergus lives in Ireland. His brother in prison. Set at the height of the troubles – this is an extraordinary book that merges ancient history with The Troubles.

Choices – fundamental beliefs challenged. A story of bravery and essentially, of families and hope.

Extraordinarily compelling. A slice of Irish history and a little more.

Image result for rosie loves jack

Published by Usborne

This doesn’t need much of a review. A young lady leaves home to find her boyfriend in Brighton. The weather turns and she becomes stuck in London.

This is a story often told, from another perspective.


Touching and honest.

A tale of prejudice, assumptions, independence, trust and love.

A story of hope.

Image result for rosie loves jack



Published by Fourth Estate.

Ravens. Their peripatetic wanderings on foot have been described as like that of ‘a very particular gentleman with exceedingly tight boots on, trying to walk over loose pebbles.’

In flight, however, they exhibit a joy and a vivaciousness – able to fly upside down, but always with aerobatic precision. They are extraordinary birds.

This is a celebration of ravens. Of the relationship between one man and the birds of the tower. There really is only one tower – The Tower of London.

Chris Skaife has been Ravenmaster at The Tower since 2011 – and this is in a way of an ode to the birds, mixed with a good reflection on the history, traditions and legends of that extraordinary building and of course, the birds.

It is a wonderful story of their lives and the difficulties that result should you not give them the respect due, or happen to change the order in which things are done.

It seems Ravens are creatures of habit.

This is a wonderful celebration of an avian and human relationship – quite wonderful.



Image result for the universe is expanding and so am i  Image result for the earth my butt and other big round things bloomsbury









Published by Bloomsbury

I seem to read more 5-8 & 9-12 titles than Teen. Young adults seem to know what they want, without any input from me. Once in a while, though, I stray from normality and find little gems like this one.

Virginia is not a svelte, slim, fashionista – she is a little on the large size. I can relate to that. Its not that she hasn’t tried, but she’s beginning to see herself as curvaceous, rather than fat, that is on the good days. She does believe in one thing though, that the opportunity to have a relationship with a boy shouldn’t rely on whether you are slim, big breasted with long blonde hair. Never-the-less at the start of this funny and moving book, she has been going out, officially with Froggy Welsh (fantastic name) for some five or so months… Sadly though, she has come to realise that she has ‘fallen out of like‘ with him – particularly since she last made out with him in Central Park…

‘…a few blocks from school, I had this weird feeling that I was kissing a golden retriever. This was new. Not the kissing part, because we’ve done a lot of that. But the new sensation was that his tongue felt slobbery and long, like it was trying to retrieve a dog treat from behind my molars.’

Which is never a good sign.

Life is complicated enough without that.

Then there is Virginia’s brother. Byron – a perfect brother, until ‘the ordeal’ when everything changed, for everyone.

Life becomes a turmoil of emotions, and Virginia is relieved to find someone who also doesn’t want to talk about families. Someone who is special, who seems to care, but doesn’t want to know about her family, if she doesn’t want to talk about it, and is happy not to talk about his…

This is the sequel to The Earth, My Butt and other Big Round Things. Sometimes publishers send out sequels, without the first book. Which can be irritating if you are unaware, (I don’t read the blurb with proofs), especially if the sequel assumes knowledge you don’t have (having never read the initial volume) – it didn’t matter with this one.

You can read it as a ‘stand alone’ – if you wish. If it means anything, you should know, though, that I intend to order a copy of The Earth (if it isn’t in stock) even though I will be reading them in the wrong order. I suspect The Earth will be as good as The Universe – at least I hope so. Either way – buy this (and The Earth) and sit in a shady part of a garden or park, with some juice and something to nibble and just enjoy them.




Image result for venetian games jones constable

Published by Constable

This is the Crime / Thriller Book of the Month for Waterstones (March). I don’t often read adult books – spending my time, as many of you will know, reading books for the world’s younger readers. This attracted me though, because it is set in Venice – and I have a sort of love affair with La Serrenissima.

Page one made me laugh and I was laughing throughout this wonderful mystery – absolutely wonderful. A superb intricate crime novel, mixed with humour and, what is more, it is a brilliant observational piece about people.

I love the attitude of the principle character/hero – so much so I have ordered the second book Vengeance in Venice, which isn’t out yet – (April 2018), and I can’t wait. Philip Gwynne Jones knows Venice (he lives there…) – and, as is always the way when someone writes a book set in a city they know, they take you deep into its depths – and this happens with The Venetian Game.

Nathan works as an honorary consul in Venice. It starts with him attempting to assist the Mills family who have had their passports stolen. I enjoyed the altercation he has with Mr Mills immensely. The story really develops, however, when a man asks for a small insignificant looking parcel to be kept in the consular safe. Not wanting to be too difficult, but being aware that a consular office isn’t exactly a left luggage office, he asks,  what is in the parcel.  On being told that isn’t something he needs to know, he advises the gentleman to go elsewhere…

Nathan also ‘owns’ a rather glorious cat – a cat with attitude – what more can I say?



Published by Scholastic

May 2018

A re-imagining of The Little Mermaid.

I received a copy of The Little Mermaid in 1971 – for a prize for attendance at my first school. Not really sure about such a prize. I think my mother should have received it. The fact that I never missed a day was surely down to her. It was an Emerald Book, published by World Distributions and retold by Mae Broadley and illustrated by Jo Berriman – sadly I can’t find a picture on the Internet of it. So it must be rare and obviously, all the more valuable, because I won it at school…

That aside, I have just gone downstairs and found it. Yes, I still have it – its in ‘good’ condition. Well, what would you expect from a girl brought up by an antiquarian bibliophile? I suppose I should really say, the daughter of a bibliophile who collects antiquarian books. Dad may be in his 80’s, but he’s not antiquarian, yet. It is a hardback picture book version with illustrations which are slightly dated, (none the worse for that) and pale; the book wasn’t printed on art paper. So it was a subtly produced volume, the colours were muted. Rather lovely.

I vaguely remembered the story when I received my proof of The Surface Breaks, but not in any great detail. This edition, is without doubt a teen / YA book – written just as Hans Christian Anderson wrote his tales. Without doubt this is a new rendition he would have approved of.

It is a story of coming of age. The patriarchal oppression of women. Of bravery, love and ultimately, sacrifice. This is not a ‘Disney’ version of this tale – it is a strong punchy and determined shout. Dark and twisted.

The cover on the proof has some rather lovely mermaid scales – whether that will translate through to the finished book is in the lap of the ‘Book Gods’.



Published by Macmillan

I am a fan of Chris Riddell. I have been for some time – he is extraordinarily talented (to a degree that makes me more than a little jealous), has a brilliant sense of humour and further, a sense of the absurdity, not to say horror of the world that we live in.

He is by turn a political cartoonist (Observer), a passionate believer in and campaigner for libraries and reading, he is the Children’s Laureate until the end of this year and can sketch a ‘Rarely seen six-toed Sloth’, within seconds of being set the challenge. I know this, because I set it, and have it framed on my wall.

I have a greater challenge for him, the next time I see him – I would like to see him sketch an aye-aye – they are such weird creatures, and so wonderful. I’d love to see how he goes about it…

That though is perhaps more about the man himself than this book – which is a celebration really of the work he did (and is doing, after all he still has six months to go) over the period of his Laureate-ship – if such a word exists.

It contains examples of everything you could imagine – the man’s work is prolific – political cartoons, characters from his books, and from famous stories too, his family, himself, of drawings and sketches of the world as it spins in its sometimes horrendous ways…

It is a snippet not only of his extraordinarily busy time over the last few years, but also of our lives too…

It is, in a way a coffee table book – one for dipping into. I would say one to enjoy when seated on the traditional throne, but it is too nice a book for that. Once picked up, you will want to flip to something else…and so on. A momentary drift into this volume turns into a half hour, when you should, as I, be hanging out washing, or hovering the house….


Published by Electric Monkey / Egmont

I know very little about cerebral palsy and found this introduction to the condition curious – though the situation that those with the condition find themselves cannot be said to be anyway curious at all – traumatic, and difficult to say the least. One of the good things about reading is that it often introduces you to subjects you wouldn’t normally investigate. This is Jemma’s story – her particular problems include a total inability to speak, she is unable to move around by herself, though she is liable to twitch erratically. Her brain, though, is certainly working on all four cylinders (to use a veterinarian term)….She is bright, resourceful and aware of people and their general machinations, hopes and desires. She is unlucky enough to be verbally bullied by a character in the book who tells her that he is responsible for a murder, but that after all is fine; after all she can’t tell any one, can she!

It is the story of families, belief in yourself and overcoming fears. It is also a coming of age book too – a super book from this always edgy publishing house.





Published by David Fickling Books

Garvie Smith, Like Sherlock – but lazier

This is the second volume in the Garvie Smith series. I wrote about Running Girl a while ago, having rather fallen in love with Garvie. A young man whose abilities that far out weigh his inclinations to work towards his up and coming  exams.

In this new book  his mother is nearing melt-down.

The school that Garvie ‘attends’ is now in the throws of examination time – everyone is revising, and spending their last few hours and minutes before each exam, studying, writing notes, and reading over stuff, just one more time.

Garvie, of course, is not…His uncle keeps taking Garvie aside to talk to him, explaining what needs to be done. At least to keep his mother happy.

His mother is desperate, and keeps pulling him aside to stare at her son, her voice becoming more and more stringent as Garvie stands before her in the kitchen, explaining yet again what happened.

Garvie would like to keep his mother happy. The problem though is that a pupil from his school has been murdered. The most unlikely boy to die, you might have thought. A violinist – who never allowed his violin out of his hands. So what happened to it?

Another gloriously funny crime novel – set around some of my favourite characters… Inspector Singh is still struggling to keep his sanity (and his job) with Garvie’s exuberance and ‘help’, and he finds himself doing things he’d never usually think of doing…

This one has been published in hardback – but is well worth the slightly increased expenditure.