Some Recent Reads

I am lucky! Since beginning to write a book column in North of Scotland newspapers, I have been sent books! Actual, physical, lovely review copies, all in exchange for an honest opinion.

So I thought I’d round up a few faves from the last month or so. I genuinely enjoyed these. Check them out (if you’re that way minded):

Lily’s Just Fine, due for release July

Lily's Just Fine (Galloway Girls, #1)

Lily is a fabulous character. FABULOUS, I say, and exactly what Scotland needs. The author demonstrates very clearly that a small canvas of small town politics and hierarchies (rather than monsters, dragons, disasters and dystopian apocalypses which normally dominate teenage fiction) can be as vivid and memorable as a sweeping saga.
The key to its success is Lily: successful, pretty, confident, irreverent and utterly compelling. The genre might be romance, but there is plenty to occupy readers’ minds here: bigotry, materialism, chronic illness, mental health and school pressures are all explored. Alternating narrators can be predictable, but chapter transitions were handled with fluency and speed, just like thrillingly speedy racket exchanges over a net.
I very much look forward to the next Galloway Girls instalment. And I hope Lily’s voice takes centre-stage again!

Sonny and Me

Sonny and Me by Ross Sayers

I can’t think of another book like Sonny and Me. I spent decades teaching teenage boys in Scottish secondary schools and let me tell you: yes, this is how many of them speak, think and behave . Apart from the fact that this is authentic, funny and warm, it gives voice to those who may not always have a voice, certainly not in books. The friendship between the main characters is spot on and propelled me through the book from start to finish. Irreverent and provocative enough to appeal to teenagers, with enough issues /meaty topics to appeal to a more general readership. Fantastic follow up to Mary’s the Name. I’ll certainly be reading whatever Sayers writes next!

The Titanic Detective Agency

The Titanic Detective Agency
This is my favourite Lindsay Littleson book so far.
Even as a child, I had a mild fascination with the Titanic, reading and re-reading contemporary accounts, so it was a welcome surprise that the characters we most care about on the ship are based on real people, with photographs to inspect at the end of the book.
Bertha feels like the kind of kid you want to be friends with: opinionated, interested, charismatic and full of fun. She does, however, feel ‘real’ too, with her impatience with adult talk and church services lasting too long. The greatest strength of this novel is that Bertha’s childlike concerns are front and centre throughout. The horror of the sinking is not brushed over in any way, but the lingering memory of this read is of riddles and mysteries, chases and secrets – in short, of Berth’s concerns.
For any fellow teacher who may be concerned, this is a very sensitively handled account, with Bertha facing up to the horror of the sinking, but experiencing it from a distance in her lifeboat.
The period detail is meticulously researched, the characters utterly compelling and not a word is wasted.
This is the kind of children’s novel that would have got me into reading if I was a kid all over again. 🙂


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