Archives for category: For Young Adult

Published by Corgi / Penguin Random House Group

I have reached page 128 – and I can’t put this volume down. Ant and her brother Mattie were put with an emergency foster family when their parents disappeared. From there they have landed up in HMP London, otherwise known as Spike – a ‘family’ prison. This used to be HMP Holloway and Pentonville. Things have changed since then. They are there as a result of Heritage crime (Noun): A previously undetected crime committed by your parents or grandparents for which you are held responsible.

Ant believes that they should fight the system – as much as is possible, however, that leaves her small brother vulnerable to that same system along with her foster parents who are also residing in HMP London along with hundreds of others.

This book is intense. Are you responsible for other people’s behaviour? At the moment people are in prison for many reasons – their beliefs, for errors of judgement, for murder. Some are caught in a system that they will never manage to escape. I am not aware, though of any society that makes the children pay for crimes committed by their parents. I have recently begun to think that ideas in books, can often reflect what could happen, unless we are careful. We are not responsible for other people’s behaviour. We are all individuals and should be taking responsibility for our selves and for our children. This is a book about blame. About society’s responsibility to the individual and the individual’s responsibility to society. To care for one another. We are responsible for our own actions…

So far there has been little in Blame to make me laugh. Its not that type of book. I relate so well to Ant and her impetuosity and the need to speak out. I hope and trust though, should I ever be in a similar situation that I too would fight, and protect. I don’t know, though. I have been lucky – my ‘fights’ have been non existent compared to this.

I did laugh out loud though on the way to work this morning. I stopped reading the story and thought I would look at any notes e.t.c. at the end of the book – for background research really for this…and as expected there is a page of acknowledgements.

The first sentence I read was the following.

‘Personally, I blame Michael Morpurgo.’

I had to get off the tube at that point (because I had arrived for work) – but will be reading the rest of the Acknowledgments before I continue Blame – I suspect Simon Mayo there is more to that statement than at first appears..

This is an important book. I hope that the world becomes a better place, and not a worse one.

Simon Mayo is also the author of the 9 – 12 ‘Itch’ trilogy Itch, Itch Rocks and Itch Craft – about a boy who collects samples of all the elements of the periodic table – a marvellous series for those who are ‘into’ science…

 

 

 

 

9781447276494the20reader20on20the206-27Published by Pan / Translated from the French by Ros Schwartz

If you don’t read anything else this summer it won’t really matter – I can’t think that there will be much that will give as much pure joy and pleasure as this small volume.

I started to read this whilst reading three other titles (as is often the way of things); it quickly became, however, the only book I read for two days.

This is gorgeous, and is one of the most charming and funny books you will ever read.

Guylain Vignolles works at a book pulping factory. A job he abhors, but carries it out with care and respect for the volumes that pass through his hands. Each evening he steals away the odd leaf that didn’t quite make through the workings and had came to rest on the inside of the machine. In the morning, after drying the sheets, he reads from them. An eclectic set of texts, to a train carriage of people who listen avidly.

This is a story of friendship, and of two quests. five-goldfish-swimming-with-bubblesOne for a pair of limbs and the other for something much more important. Beautifully written and translated (it is a French volume) with a lovely use of language and character – it is a book of hope.

It is extremely rare for me to find an Adult’s book that I have enjoyed so much.

Many adults I come across say they have no time to read. They have too many books to read already.

Make the time, and further, put the others aside. This is not a big book, but it is a marvellous one.

 

9781408869437

Published by Bloomsbury

There is something about the Tudors. So much so I once caused consternation by explaining to a group of primary school boys that for me, history begins with them…and everything else then hangs off the dynasty – either backwards in time or towards the future. I’m afraid they were a little puzzled at first and then a bit shocked that an adult should think in this rather illogical fashion. Except for me it isn’t. Why not start with the bits you enjoy and then place everything around it – rather like starting in the middle of a time line puzzle…

You really can’t beat Henry VIII and his six wives for drama and for being just a human story – we know a great deal, I suspect guess quite a bit about what happened, but also know so very little too.

This is essentially the story of Katherine Howard, the one who was beheaded, before the last Queen who survived in that rather useful poem – Divorced, Beheaded, Died. Divorced Beheaded, Survived. I find the whole episode of Henry the Eighth’s drive to father a son and the repercussions of it, unbelievably sad, and have always thought that Katherine (and Anne Boleyn) perhaps wasn’t quite as she has often been depicted, in Katherine’s case as a wanton lass (and Anne’s as a witch…)

That the circumstances around Henry’s matrimonial problems, were often part of the reasons why people behaved the way they did, and often the result of just being between a rock and a hard place. Who can say why Henry only managed to produce three children? It is interesting that he was after all the common denominator in all the relationships.

Eliza Rose is Lucy Worsley’s interpretation of this part of Tudor history – Anne of Cleves and Katherine’s rise and subsequent fall. It has more depth than many of the Tudor histories I have read that have been written for young readers. Lucy Worsley’s knowledge of how palaces worked means that it fits together better, runs more smoothly and was a real pleasure to read, even though I knew the outcome of the story.

Eliza Rose is a fictional character inserted into history – a ploy that sometimes doesn’t work. In this case Lucy’s depiction of her character, and what happens to her are believable to the degree I had to check as to whether she really was a piece of imagination or had lived and was a character I just hadn’t heard about.

There was without doubt more to the tale of Henry and his six wives.

The demands were different, as were expectations. Attitudes and beliefs were different. Henry might well have been a despot. I think he was also a human, with human frailties, hopes, desires, and fears. As for his queens – all I think were victims of circumstance, some the result of just taking one too many chances (and who hasn’t done that, at least once in their lives), as well as being as brave, naïve and just caught up in other’s and their own hopes and dreams.

kath-howardI really enjoyed this – I hope Katherine had someone like Eliza Rose in her life. In this book they may have been inadvertent rivals, but were also caught in the same circumstances.

I hope that Lucy will write more books about the Tudor period – this I carried around with me for 48 odd hours, and frantically searched the house late last night so I could read it before I went to sleep; only to find I’d left it in the car. Finished this evening…a very satisfactory retelling of a very traumatic story.

 

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Published by Chicken House

Not yet published at time of going to post – February 2016

Another adventure from the stable of Dan Smith. This time centred around Ash McCarthy, kidnapped and seemingly alone on an island – trapped in some sort of science complex.

This is full of adrenalin and energy – Ash needs not only to escape, but there seems to be a lot more going on than he can work out… He seems also to be changing, fundamentally and fast. Will he be able to escape and find out what is going on?

This is due out early February…

 

Hodder and Stoughton

Not yet published at time of going to Post – October 2015

This book relates a small period in Sebastian Rudd’s life. He is an American lawyer on the edge – his clients are usually guilty and violent, the police and society happy are happy to convict whether the accused is guilty of what they are accused or not; he works on the darker side of the legal profession, a lone wolf trying where he can to do the best for his clients.

I will read more John Grisham books in future. This I picked up at work, when I needed something to keep my mind briefly occupied, and have read it with real enjoyment.

Apart from John Mortimer’s Rumpole and Judge John Deed (TV) I haven’t come across an English character in fiction quite like Rudd – I hope there is one out there, both in fiction and in fact. I suspect our legal processes, and our prejudices may be a little questionable too at times… It would be good to read about an English lawyer dealing with similar issues in the UK, if only for the legal convolutions and ramifications…

Rudd is not perfect, but he does try – and that is what drives these few chapters.

It is out on the 20th of October this year – but there is plenty of other fiction (and one non-fiction) by Grisham to read in the mean time…

Enjoy them.