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djdhp (Herts. England)

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Picture Me Gone
Picture Me Gone
by Meg Rosoff
Edition: Hardcover

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book! Meg Rosoff at her best!, 7 Sept. 2013
This review is from: Picture Me Gone (Hardcover)
I was lucky enough to read a proof copy of this book and have waited for publication to buy my own so I can read it again as there is so much in it to think about, never mind a plot that makes you want to whiz through it just to find out what happens next. Mila, twelve years old and named after her grandfather's dog, has the same tenacious qualities as a terrier. She also has the same ability to home in on the details around her, seeing the obvious which adults miss among their own preoccupations, and when her father's friend goes missing just as they come to visit him in America, she is determined to work out where he has gone. The mystery of this slowly widens out as she fills in the background detail of his life and every character she meets is beautifully drawn (even Honey, the dog!).

It is written in first person, present tense, not a style I always enjoy, but Mila's voice is so clear and realistic that I was drawn in very quickly. We see everything through her eyes yet she never comes across as an unlikely or cutesy over-mature narrator - she is clearly still twelve. Speech is not shown in speech marks, which intrigued me - it makes sense as the story is filtered through Mila and it was not confusing to read. For me, the effect was that it blurred the boundaries between outward speech and inward thought and made me think about the differences between what people say and what their thoughts might be.

I guess this would be classed as Young Adult fiction yet, like all Meg Rosoff's books, it is fiction for anyone who wants to enjoy it - I read it (as an adult with an interest in children's books), my sixteen year old is just finishing it, my fourteen year old will read it next. It left me thinking about silence and lies, language and translation, friendship and family relationships, and the answer to the mystery is as satisfying as everything else.

by Sarra Manning
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Very funny, very clever., 14 Oct. 2012
This review is from: Adorkable (Paperback)
This is a very very clever book! It will leave you thinking, but it's also extremely funny. I'd say it's let down by its cover blurb which makes it sounds like a familiar teen girl-meets-boy read and it's much more than that. It's about fitting in, and being yourself and how you can balance these two, bring your inner world together with the social world around you. It also considers how real the internet is compared to real life and where you find your real friends.
The characterisation is utterly believable - people can be both lovable and infuriating at the same time, especially teenagers who are finding their way. Jeane is NOT always likeable, nor is Michael, nor are they always reasonable; but as the narration flips back and forth, you can see inside the thoughts of each and so your sympathies shift back and forth too. And while it shows us a dysfunctional family, like so many books today, it also shows a happy one which is equally believable. Oh, and the sex scene is thoroughly realistic too - consider that if you're buying for a younger age group. Jeane and Michael are 17 and 18, after all.
Stick with this book - it will repay reading.

Saffy's Angel: Book 1 (Casson Family)
Saffy's Angel: Book 1 (Casson Family)
by Hilary McKay
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars First of a brilliant series!, 21 May 2012
My daughter is 12 and we only found these recently and now we're working our way through them all - yes, luckily I get to read them to her! She's quite a mature reader but she likes humour and real life situations as well and she gets it all from the Casson family. These books are so clever because they are funny - laugh out loud for both of us at times - and easy to read but they have an awful lot of thoughtful observation tucked away in them so while you thoroughly enjoy them, you have lots to think about afterwards. The second one, Indigo's Star, has even left us with a catchphrase - 'Feeling blue, Indigo?'

My Dear I Wanted to Tell You
My Dear I Wanted to Tell You
by Louisa Young
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £19.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The audio CD is fabulous too!, 14 Nov. 2011
Many other reviews here deal very well in various ways with the book, its plot and its characters, but I had this as an audio CD and want to urge you to consider that. It is read by Dan Stevens (who plays Matthew Crawley in Downton Abbey); he reads it beautifully and I felt it genuinely added something to an excellent novel - it was utterly compelling, so evocative of character and time. My main problem was that when listening to it in the car, I would reach my destination and have to sit there, unable to get out because I couldn't let it go! It is indeed one of those that stays with you - the flawed and fascinating characters, who are so genuine and whose lives you really care about as you follow them. I am now buying two more copies as presents for friends of mine - choosing the CD where I would normally have given the book because I enjoyed it so much.

Being Billy
Being Billy
by Phil Earle
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.08

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just read it! (Imperative, not past tense!) It's brilliant., 24 May 2011
This review is from: Being Billy (Paperback)
I'll say upfront that this is not normally the type of book I would pick up - I'd assume it was issue-led and over-serious. Yet it's neither. It's enormously readable, sometimes funny, and it really stays with you after you finish it. Billy's voice is powerful and convincing, yet he's always a teenager - there's no adult author over his shoulder. I think that's what impressed me most. With a first-person narrative, how does an author maintain our sympathy for this angry and sometimes violent boy while he develops and changes? (Let's be honest, if we saw him in the street, we'd probably cross the road!) How does he convey the bigger picture while never letting the focus slip from Billy's view? Phil Earle manages both of these things, apparently effortlessly. As Billy matures, and his view of the world develops, so does ours, and I genuinely cared about Billy. As an adult, I had the same frustrations as Ronnie, Billy's key worker, in wanting the best for Billy - but it's next on my son's reading pile now, and I am intrigued to know whether he will see Billy differently, as a fellow 14-year-old.
I should add that, having read the book ahead of a literary festival, I also thought Phil Earle made a great speaker! I would guess he'd be brilliant with a roomful of teenagers and so I'd recommend him as well as his book, if you're an English teacher or school librarian.
Looking forward to the next book ...

Wife in the North
Wife in the North
by Judith O'Reilly
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Try it .. bit by bit .. it's fab, 18 Jan. 2010
This review is from: Wife in the North (Paperback)
I love this! I didn't expect to - I expected metropolitan yummy mummy but the quality of the writing and the perceptive observation lifts it above all that. She observes others but I don't think she spares herself either. Maybe the mistake some reviewers made was to read it all in one go as though it's a novel. It started life as a blog and I read it as such - little bit by little bit. I'm on my second read and about to buy it for a friend. It's not just about 'moving from London' - it's about moving anywhere and trying to create a new life, which a lot of us do. It's about finding a new self when you have been one type of person and have to learn to be another, something many women experience. It's about those moments when you are living in chaos and don't live up to your own expectations of yourself - surely we've all been there. Try it.

Outnumbered - Series 1 and 2 Box Set [DVD]
Outnumbered - Series 1 and 2 Box Set [DVD]
Dvd ~ Hugh Dennis
Offered by Rare Dvds
Price: £9.72

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Works on all levels, 8 Dec. 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Having seen both series, we're ordering this for all of us for Christmas. Children (10 and 12) love it as much as we do as the humour of it works on a variety of levels. I think they aspire to be the children in the Outnumbered household ...

Child's Gift of Lullabyes
Child's Gift of Lullabyes

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Play it again and again, 13 Jan. 2008
The key with children's lullaby music is that it can bear constant repetition - night after night! We have been using this since a friend sent it to us getting on for ten years ago. I still like it - and the choice of hearing it with or without lyrics is also useful. It sends me to sleep, never mind the children ...

Biscuit Bear
Biscuit Bear
by Mini Grey
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.35

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Endearingly surreal, 27 Nov. 2006
This review is from: Biscuit Bear (Paperback)
This is one of those books which my daughter (aged 7) has had from the library again and again ... now it's on the Christmas list. It's simple yet sophisticated and has a lovely quirky humour as well as multiple illustrations that dance around the page and text that circles and changes typeface in tune with the story. It's not all sugary sweetness and light and endures better for that reason: Biscuit Bear escapes being eaten and stages a circus in the kitchen only to see his circus performers demolished by the arrival of the family dog, who likes biscuits as well. He himself is a survivor, however, and finds a safe home as the everlasting star of the 'Golden Bun' bakery display. My daughter loves it all. If your child likes this, try also Mini Grey's The Adventures of the Dish and the Spoon - another favourite here, which will equally delight parents who are familiar with old movies ...

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