Review – Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson

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“Hanover falls hasn’t had a werewolf problem in over one hundred years, but when people suddenly start dying in Claire Benoit’s town, panic spreads fast. The gruesome killings are all anyone can talk about at Claire’s sixteenth birthday party, though the only thing on Claire’s mind is gorgeous Matthew Engle chatting and flirting with her as if she’s the only girl there. But that night, Claire discovers something that takes away all sense of normality: she’s a werewolf.

Claire knows she must keep her changing identity a secret, especially from Matthew, whose father is leading the werewolf hunt. But then a rogue werewolf threatens to put everyone she knows in danger. Struggling to feel comfortable in either skin, and with her lupine loyalty at odds with her human heart, Claire is forced to make a choice that will change her forever.”

 

Claire de Lune – Christine Johnson

It’s no secret that I love a young adult book and while vampires and werewolves are quickly becoming old news, the different angle in Claire de Lune definitely caught my attention.

Claire is your typical 16 year old girl – slightly self obsessed and always at odds with her mother. Like any other girl at that age she has her eyes on a cute guy who she is not really allowed to go anywhere near. Still, things are going well until she finds out that the werewolf gene runs in her family. As she struggles with her love life, her best friend leaving and her difficult family and home life, Claire also has to cope with her changing body and the painful process of transforming into a wolf. Add to this her rebellious attitude towards her mother and the constant threat of being discovered, Claire has much more on her plate than your average teenage girl.

Claire de Lune is a fast paced, un-put-downable novel which I think brings something new to the werewolf genre. It makes a change for the girl to be the supe and the guy to be an average joe! I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who is a supernatural fan!

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Are you bored of the vampire/werewolf genre yet or is it still going strong?

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NOTE – I am currently away at Leeds Festival but will answer all comments when I return!

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Review – The Woman Who Went To Bed For a Year by Sue Townsend

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“The day her twins leave home, Eva climbs into bed and stays there. For seventeen years she’s wanted to yell at the world, “stop! I want to get off!” Finally, this is her chance.

Her husband Brian, an astronomer having an unsatisfactory affair, is upset. Who will cook his dinner? Eva, he complains, is attention seeking. But word of Eva’s defiance spreads.

Legions of fans, believing she is protesting, gather in the street, while her new friend Alexander the white-van man brings tea, toast and unexpected sympathy. And from this odd but comforting place, Eva begins to see both herself and the world very, very differently…”

The Woman Who Went to Bed For a Year – Sue Townsend

I have been keeping an eye out for The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole in my local charity shops for a while now so when I saw The Woman Who Went to Bed For a Year by the same author I snapped it up.

Eva is the mother to Brian Junior and Brianne, seventeen year old twins who took up her entire life before they left to go to university. Once they have gone Eva gets into bed and refuses to get out again. Her not-so-loving husband, Brian, is confused and frustrated by her stubborness and has absolutely no idea how to make a meal for himself, nevermind run a house. As Eva’s family get used to fending for themselves and looking after her for a change, she starts to see the world in a totally different way. Alexander the local white van man becomes her closest friend and she starts giving advice to those who pop in and see her.

This novel is a brilliant and hilarious look at family life but it also has darker psychological themes as Eva is obviously having some kind of breakdown. She is an extremely likeable character though and you can’t help but cheer her on in her mission to think about herself for a change!

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Are you ever tempted to just give up on all your responsibilities and stay in bed? Would you feel liberated or just bored?

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NOTE – I am currently away at Leeds Festival but will answer all comments when I return!

Book Review – Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris

 

“Beyond the main street of Les Laveuses runs the Loire, smooth and brown as a sunning snake – but hiding a deadly undertow beneath its moving surface. This is where Framboise, a secretive widow named after a raspberry liquer, plies her culinary trade at the creperie – and lets memory play strange games.

Into this world comes the threat of revelation as Framboise’s nephew – a profiteering Parisian – attempts to exploit the growing success of the country recipes she has inherited from her mother, a woman remembered with contempt by the villagers of Les Laveuses. As the spilt blood of a tragic wartime childhood flows again, exposure beckons for Framboise, the widow with an invented past.”

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Joanne Harris I’ve always considered as a hit and miss author. Now I realise there is a pattern to the books I liked that were written by her. The first book I read by Joanne Harris was Chocolat and I fell in love with it. It was probably the first novel I’d read that was set in a different country to the UK and I loved the idea of a little french village. I then read Blackberry Wine which I loved for similar reasons. I was therefore quite surprised when I tried Holy Fools and got bored. I then realised what it was that made me love the first two books. Joanne Harris has a remarkable talent for portraying the emotions and family ties caused by food. It’s the one thing that always manages to bring people together. I therefore tried Five Quarters of the Orange and it turns out I was right, I loved it.

This novel switches from the present day Framboise to when she was a child. This confused me at first but it was a brilliant  way of writing and creating suspense as I desperately tried to get to the end to find out what it was that made the adult Framboise so ashamed of her childhood.

The chapters that were based on the younger Framboise were my favourites. As a child she grew up on a french farm and spend most of her time tending crops and making food such as jam. It always sounds like such a wonderful life! I’d missed the bit about the war when I read the back of this book which is lucky because it usually puts me off. However this was a very interesting angle on the war, there were little or no bombings and the terror of wartime childhood wasn’t portrayed at all. This might because Framboise and her siblings grew up on a village farm where the threats were lower. The german soldiers buying information from the children was really interesting to me as I’d never heard of it before. I’ll stop there because I don’t want to give to much away!

The older Framboise’s story didn’t grip me quite as much but it served as a teaser and kept me reading because I wanted to find out what had happened in her childhood. I liked the idea of her little creperie though and the scrapbook left by her mother was a beautiful addition. I love the idea of a recipe scrapbook slash diary and it just adds to what I was saying before about food and emotions.

All in all I really enjoyed this novel. I didn’t speed through it like I do with the novels that really grip me but I did want to keep reading. It definitely restored my faith in Joanne Harris but from now on I’ll look for titles with food in them!

Have you read this book? What do you think of novels based on the emotional aspects of food and family life?

The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling – A Quick Review!

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I’ve just finished this book after a whole two months. This is a bad start really as I usually go through a book this length in a week. This is just a quick review with no spoilers and I’m not going to go too in depth.

Firstly let me confess that as I grew up with Harry Potter and slightly idolise JK Rowling, I was always going to try this book. I am currently writing a story which is aimed at a similar aged audience as the later Harry Potter books and I really admire the way she wrote the series, particularly the way she built a whole world from scratch. I never want to be famous like she is (I’d be happy just seeing some of my writing in print) but I do think she is brilliant. That said, I am not going to compare this novel to the Harry Potter series because it can’t be done. This was never meant to be similar to the Potter books and needs to be read and reviewed as a stand alone novel. With that bit over and done with let’s get onto The Casual Vacancy.

The Casual Vacancy

A BIG NOVEL ABOUT A SMALL TOWN …

When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils … Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

 

 

This book failed to grip me from the very start. I persevered with it hoping it would get better and I found that my interest came and went as the story went on. I loved Pagford and the war with The Fields (the poorer end of the village). It’s the kind of place that always looks perfect but when you get a closer look it never is. With tiny village shops, the school and the community where everyone knows each other, Pagford is the perfect setting for a scandal such as there is in this novel.

However I feel that the characters let this story down. I found it hard to keep track of who was who and there was only really one family in the story that I was interested in. It turned out to be a very important story to the plot but I think focusing more on that part of the story would have made it a better read. I also found the election story line quite boring and not much happened in the first half of the book.

I won’t give anything away but I liked the ending. It was a good climax to the story and made for a more interesting few chapters. I definitely related more to the teenagers in this story and wonder whether it’s because JK Rowling is better at creating unique teenage characters than adults? 

All in all I did not enjoy this book as much as I thought I would and do not understand the hype surrounding it. However I think fans of this type of novel would maybe enjoy it more. I’ve heard it compared to Joanna Trollope although I have never read any of her books. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who isn’t a fan of this type of literature though. I was willing to give a new genre a try but it didn’t really work! I hope JK will branch out into other genres soon.