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The advantage of having a degree in Eng. Lit. and a reputation for reading more in a week than the rest of the office does in a year is that you can sit in the staff kitchen at lunchtime and read teen fiction and nobody dares to mock you. Actually I think everybody should read these. They are absolutely wonderful and make me feel a whole lot better about the world; they are funny and touching and have just enough of everybody's family in to be recognisable; they have so many layers and so many voices. I have been inhaling them this week and going on epic missions to find the ones I haven't read yet. Gorgeous.
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Mark Dunn, "Ella Minnow Pea"

Well, my first reaction to this was 'But Thurber did this better in The Wonderful O!' Actually, this is not the case. The Wonderful O is better, but it's not doing what Dunn does here. What both authors do is portray the havoc wreaked in society by the outlawing of a letter or letters. What Dunn does, and Thurber doesn't, is inflict the same privation upon himself. Inevitably, it felt rather contrived.

Various, "Spinechillers: Ghost Stories"

One of those 'get kids reading for a quid' things. Not really very scary, it must be admitted.

Davey Moore, "Dark Planet: Decide Your Destiny No. 7" (Doctor Who tie-in)

I used to love 'Choose Your Own Adventure'. Granted, one usually ended up dying horribly for the simple reason that one opened the wrong door, but it was fun to have a bit of control over a book. This was a bit of a disappointment, in that there were only three possible endings, and the choices that were offered to the reader didn't seem to make much difference to the overall trajectory of the plot - whatever you chose, you ended up in more or less the same place, in more or less the same state. Not so much fun.

Amanda Addison, "Laura's Handmade Life"

This is 'L' in the ABC roundabout, and the first one that I've really been apathetic about. ('J' was really Not My Cup Of Tea, but had a certain trainwreck fascination about it - 'she's not going to go there... she's really not going to go there... she went there'.) This one was just... meh. I really didn't care about anybody in it, nor did I find any of them interesting. Some of it was plain bad writing (important plot points happening offscreen, for example, after there had been a big lead-up); some of it was annoying. (A sewing business that just happens? Dream on. Where on earth does she find the time? And I don't care if Kitkat is fair trade these days; I was very disappointed to see the narrative unquestioningly endorsing Nestlé.)

Sarah Rayner, "One Moment, One Morning"

This one I liked a lot. While the plot is built around the death of a man, it is centred upon three well-drawn women. Well-written, sympathetic but believable characters, a positive portrayal of a lesbian character, and the sort of book that keeps you reading. Recommended.

Cassandra Golds, "Clair-de-Lune"

A rather strange little fable about a mute girl and a dancing mouse. Missing a couple of pages, unfortunately, but happily they're early on in the book so I don't think I missed too much. I will admit to shedding a tear or two.
stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
A Montgomery series I'd not previously come across. It's very much along the same lines as Anne and Emily (more the latter, thinking about it, though that may simply be due to its being a short series). I recognised a lot of my younger self in Pat, particularly in the attachment to house and family and things not changing. While I'm old enough now both to recognise that attitude as unhealthy, and to second-guess Montgomery's plot to the extent that I was skimming a lot of the second book, there were bits in both of them that still brought a tear to my eye. A good comfort read.
stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
First Among Sequels - Jasper Fforde

Re-read. I had forgotten quite how much fun this series is. As ever, I found the BookWorld parts much more interesting than the AU!Swindon, but it's all very enjoyable.

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - C S Lewis

Re-read of an old friend. This isn't my favourite of the Narnia books (that accolade goes to Dawn Treader) but it has some wonderful moments and is a joy to revisit.

61 Hours - Lee Child

Trying this to see what all the fuss is about. It took me a while to get into, for all that the first thirty hours take up a lot less page space than the remainder. Once I did, it was harder to put down, but I still don't quite get all the Jack Reacher-mania.

Deadheads - Reginald Hill

As ever, I am hopping around all over the place within the series. I started off quite well with Dalziel and Pascoe (that is, with A Clubbable Woman) but I've skipped about ten years, I think. I liked this one - the use of rose varieties for the chapter headings was interesting, characterisation fantastic, lovely twist in the tail. Poor Sergeant Wield, though!

While the Light Lasts - Agatha Christie

A collection of not recently republished short stories. Something of a disappointment, as I found that I'd read most or all of these before, even if not necessarily in this particular form. A number of them are in The Hound of Death. Quite interesting as a curiosity, anyway, and it's good to have re-read them.

Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean - Justin Somper

Shipwrecked twins, each fearing the other dead (so far, so Twelfth Night) get picked up by pirates. The boy ends up with normal pirates (in so far as this is possible, it being the 26th century); the girl with the titular Vampirates. They spend the book trying to find each other. Blood and guts and gore, usual piratey stuff. Unimpressed that Grace spends most of the time stuck in a cabin while Connor gets to do sword-fighting and such; maybe the balance is redressed in later books?

The Mind-Readers - Margery Allingham

Couldn't get into this; gave up.

More William - Richmal Crompton

More William? Absolutely. Vastly improves a day in bed with the flu. My favourites in this one: A Busy Day, William's Burglar, The Ghost, The May King, and William and the Smuggler.

The Morning Gift - Eva Ibbotson

Another Ibbotson romance featuring refugees and desirable Englishmen. While still fairly formulaic, this is a departure from Ibbotson's usual form in that the protagonists get married in chapter 2 and then spend the rest of the book working out that actually they might want to stay married. Though of course it's considerably more complicated than it needs to be, and at times I was wishing to smack both of them round the head. I love the backgrounds, though, and in this case particularly intellectual Vienna.
stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
Two households, both alike in dignity... This book is a real breath of fresh air. Set in an alternative universe where magic is part of everyday life, and where history has happened a little differently (so Italy, for example, is still divided into city states well into the twentieth century) it's beautifully written and has a superb sense of place. The characters are well defined, and the atmosphere remained with me through lesser, more adult, books. Perhaps my favourite of the Chrestomanci series.
stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
Two books in one. A large chunk keeps falling out of the Highland Twins part of the book, but so far the Chalet School at War remains intact.

Aside from alarums and excursions of the more than usually sensational sort, there being Nazis, U-boats and spies to contend with, not to mention moving the entire establishment, and Welsh and Gaelic being added to the polyglot cornucopia, this is pretty much Chalet School business as usual. Just a little more so. A nice unchallenging read (apart from suppressing my murderous inclinations towards Joey, that is...)
stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
A relatively late Abbey Girls book, and exceedingly confusing because of the vast number of a) twins; b) people with names beginning with J; c) Queens of the Hamlet Club. It always amuses me how the longer school story series end up with very little school at all. I like the Abbey stories, though, baffling as they are, because they are very generous-spirited with it, even if one is not into all the folk dancing.
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Very obviously by the author of "A Dream of Sadler's Wells" &c, and concerned with much the same themes - Northumbria, dancing (ballet and Spanish), clergymen's children, horses, money troubles. Rather less plausible than the Sadler's Wells series, I thought, though it may just be that I'm coming to this at the age of 26 and with a rather more critical eye.

Annette and Max Dancy are brother and sister, obsessed with dancing to the exclusion of pretty much everything else (including their mother, or so it seems to me). The focus of this book is on Annette's dancing (classical ballet) and her mission to go to London, to the Royal Ballet School. Since I found her a spoilt and careless child, and since the challenges that she faces are not particularly exciting, I didn't much care.

On the whole I prefer Noel Streatfeild for my ballet stories. Her characters are more likely (even when they're unlikely, they're more entertaining). Also, Hill's snobbery is outrageous.
stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
I thought I had read everything that Norman Hunter ever wrote by the time I was 10. But no! Here is some more! It's set in the same 'verse as The Dribblesome Teapots (and, apparently, as Professor Branestawm, since he is referenced as living in England) and is more of the same comedy Ruritanian shenanigans. One rather cringes, now, at the procession of 'oriental potentates' with silly names. (Everybody has a silly name, of course, but...) Apart from that, good fun.


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June 2013

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