I began blogging in February 2012 and decided I would start with some book reviews.
One of my first posts was a review of Ellis Island Kate Kerrigan followed by one on Astonishing Splashes of Colour by Clare Morrall. I enjoyed Clare’s book so much that I requested The Roundabout Man from my library and found that to be enjoyable also. Clare takes difficult subjects which her characters have to face and she does this seemingly without effort.
Over the next year I read a few ‘crossover’ books. These are books which can be read by the 12+ age group, young adult or adult audiences. One example was How I Live Now by Meg Rossof where the teenagers and a younger sibling find themselves alone in the English countryside at the outbreak of a war. The characters have to learn how to fend for themselves amidst alarming developments around them. The book was a quick entertaining read but thought provoking and sad at times.
I had already read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and it was sitting on my bookshelf with How I live now so, on a visit that year, I gave them to my daughter for my grand-daughter Amy to read. Amy was a nearly teenager and has a wide reading range after a fairly slow start to independent reading which just shows how you should not judge someone’s future reading repertoire by their earlier experiences.
Another crossover book is Wonder by R J Palaccio where the main character, a child of eight or nine years of age, with a facial disfigurement, is about to enter full time school after some home tuition aimed at protecting him from the wider world. His first experiences are fairly negative but he does eventually pair up with another boy who, for some reason, is cast as an outsider. August (Auggie) Pullman is aware he is different and the book is mainly written from his POV although some sections are by a friend and also from the POV of his sister Via. It is a lovely, heart warming read and one which will induce a few tears as we see his classmates rally to support and protect him.
While Mr Stink is a children’s novel by David Walliams, I have read this and thoroughly enjoyed it. Mr Stink befriends a girl, Chloe, who is unhappy at home. When Chloe lets him come to live in the family’s garden shed, she begins to unravel some hidden truths about her father. Mr Stink helps Chloe to deal with school bullies, her over-privileged sister and a mother whose main aim is to get voted into Parliament in the next election.
Three years ago, an author friend, Sophie King, wrote to ask me to review the first chapters of her book, Divorce For Beginners. We are introduced to several characters who all are in the throes of recent separation and divorce. One recently separated girl decides to set up a support group for other people in similar situations. I warmed to the characters and found it a page turner. This is definitely on my ‘to read’ list. Note to self to update Goodreads.
As I am writing my own memoir of growing up, I like to read autobiographies. One particular delight was The Two of Us by Sheila Hancock which deals with her relationship with John Thaw (Morse). When they first meet they each have a daughter from a previous relationship and, after they are married, the have a third daughter between them. Another memoir I read towards the end of 2012 was Great Western Beach – a memoir of a Cornish childhood between the two world wars by Emma Smith. The book covers the first twelve years of the writer’s life and demonstrates how childhood is affected by the behaviour of one or both parents. Emma is her father’s favourite but her brother is constantly the victim of her father’s bad temper. Her father is a failed artist who continues to submit art work each year for the Royal Society exhibition despite being rejected each year. Another good memoir which is a fun, lively read is What the Grownups Were Doing by Michele Hanson.
More recently I have enjoyed The Boy with the Top Knot by Sathnam Sanghera about his Wolverhampton childhood growing up in a Sikh family. Sathnam was my tutor on a recent Masters Class at Winchester Writers Conference. Sathnam grew up not knowing a family secret but researching his memoir he discovered even more. https://dicastlewriter.wordpress.com/2014/09/25/life-writing-master-class-at-winchester-writers-festival/
Do let me know your favourite reads, recent reads and connect with me on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/8225358
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