Worst. Holiday. Ever. by Charlie Higson

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Worst. Holiday. Ever.

‘For all the shy kids in the world.’

Stan’s philosophy has always been to firmly decline anything resembling an adventure. There are just too many things that could go wrong. To date, he’s managed to avoid such horrors as bungee jumping and dancing in public, but now, at the age of twelve, the worst has happened. He’s going on a totally unwanted holiday to Italy with his friend, Felix, and family. In Worst. Holiday. Ever. by Charlie Higson, we join Stan as he grapples with a lengthy personal list of holiday fears, including octopuses, weird toilets, and being beach body ready.

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Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

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Sorrow and Bliss

Mental illness, from the inside

On paper, Martha should be happy. She’s a talented writer and married to a man whose love and patience know no bounds. So why is Martha so troubled and in conflict with everyone? And why can she never hold down a job? In Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason, we go inside the mind of a woman suffering from undiagnosed mental illness and get to feel the darkness and self-loathing. As devastating as this sounds, Sorrow and Bliss is more than tragedy, Mason’s acerbic wit and portrayal of a sweet on-off love-story make this read more than a sad one.

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Can I tempt you with a historical fiction novel?

I feel it’s time to speak up for historical fiction which, in my opinion, has an undeservedly bad reputation. True, there are some pretty trashy ones out there but there are also quite a few stunningly good ones. Besides being well-written and with an interesting storyline, a good historical novel takes you to a different time and place, perhaps one you didn’t know much about, and leaves you simultaneously entertained and a wiser person. We’ve reviewed quite a few on this blog which you now can find on the blog under ‘Reviews’ in the main menu.

Children’s Literary Gems You May Not Know

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler

Capturing the charms of New York in the 1960's

Marianne Dreams

Celebrating 60 years of Catherine Storr's haunting journey into a young girl's psyche

My Brother’s Ghost

Re-reading this evocative ghost tale on Allan Ahlberg's 80th birthday

The House Without Windows by Barbara Newhall Follett

The House Without Windows

A beguiling and curious read

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Meet our guest reviewer Agnes

Welcome to our guest reviewer Agnes who’s about to embark on her A-level studies in English. Agnes is passionate about reading and, despite her young age, has read more books than most people do in a lifetime. Her first reviews are of two modern classics, Catch-22 by Joseph Heller and The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood, incidentally two books I very much enjoyed myself.

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

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Exposing the absurdity of war

In Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, we find ourselves in the presence of Yossarian, a quizzical and virile man who is serving as a bombardier in the American army, with a tenacious animosity towards flying more missions. Under the command of Colonel Carthart, we are introduced to the amphora of the novel: Catch-22. The single way to be discharged from service in the army is through insanity, though to admit that you are insane shows signs of sanity. Hence, no one will ever be sent home. Overtly or discretely, you can be sure that Catch-22 is haunting you at every turn.

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The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

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The Blind Assassin

A gripping twist and turn love story

I must admit, I am severely partial to a narrated life-story, which includes twists and turns in the forms of death and romance, transforming the readers into the detectives. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood fulfils this criteria in the most evocative and powerful way. Carefully balanced, the author ensures the novel’s pendulum never swings too far into the excessively-narrative, nor the aloof. With Iris Chase as our narrator, we are invited to re-live the loss of her sister, Laura. This tumultuous story line is interrupted by a novel within a novel: here we are presented with a nostalgic and illusive glimpse into a perilous romance which sings of alacrity.

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Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

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Ethan Frome

An intense and unforgettable read

Mr Ethan Frome still cuts an imposing figure in Starkfield, despite being left ‘but the ruin of a man,’ by a terrible accident some years previously. As mute and melancholy as the wintry New England landscape he inhabits, Ethan stoically shoulders the burden of a cruel past. In Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton, we uncover the story of his joyless existence and his one shot at blazing, beautiful love. An intense and compelling addition to our Classics archive, this certainly isn’t a tale for lightweights.

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Top Ten Summer Classics

Is there anything better than a summery read to get you into a sunny mood? Or a summery novel to read on your holiday?  To get you into the spirit, we have chosen our top ten summer classics.

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