The Bell is Ringing, the Interval is Over

And we’re back, with the second part of the ‘Hitlist 2019’ 5 Star reads! Grab yourself a cuppa, or maybe some mulled wine – it is the season after all, get settled and let’s get straight back to business with the rest of the books.

Sal by Mick Kitson

Canongate

The first we’re coming to was a novel I listened to on audiobook rather than read in the physical form, and I HIGHLY recommend taking this route for it, although I loved the book so much I immediately bought a physical copy and pushed it into my mams hands, so either way you’re winning. The reason I loved the audio so much is due to the most perfect pairing of narrator to text. This is a story of two Scottish sisters and their story is voiced by the talented Sharon Rooney (from My Mad Fat Diary, Sherlock, and Dumbo, amongst many others) her Glaswegian accent fitting the narrative like a glove. We follow the sisters, Sal aged 13 and Peppa just 10, as they runaway into the Scottish wilderness. Sal has prepared for this, hours spent watching YouTube survival videos, as they escape an abusive home and the potential involvement of social services. This book handles some heavy issues but the sisters are such a wicked delight it never feels too much, I became invested in them and it feels like they still live on outside of the pages for me. The bond between the two crackles off the page with life and the author transports you so vividly it is as if you’re sitting out there by a campfire with them. Easily one of my favourite books of the year and most definitely my favourite audio book experience ever.

Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation – Adapted by Ari Folman, Illustrations by David Polonsky

Penguin Books

I must confess I was unsure of this graphic adaptation before I opened the book, but I was immediately reassured within the first few pages at how sensitively this has been adapted and illustrated. Using all of Anne Frank’s own words, Folman has taken passages from her diary that then sit along some of the most beautiful and moving illustrations I have ever seen.

The simplicity of the drawings showing both Anne’s actual existence and the thoughts that were playing out inside her head made reading this hit home even more than previous reads of the traditional printing of her diary. If I could I would make sure every home had a copy of this, so deeply affecting it leaves an emotional imprint as to serve a timely reminder to us all to fight to stop stories like this happening again.

Lenny’s Book of Everything by Karen Foxlee

Pushkin

Something for our younger readers now, and those young at heart, with this utter gem. It got me hooked from the get go with the opener “Our mother had a dark heart feeling”, whadda line folks. Another pair of siblings to be found here, this time we have our title protagonist Lenny and her younger brother Davey. Life isn’t always so easy for these two, with Davey unwell and seemingly unable to stop growing, they distract themselves with the exciting thump through the postbox of the next instalment of their buildable encyclopaedia! After their mother signs up for an amazing offer for regular deliveries that’ll see her children working their way through the alphabet, she is appalled when after an issue or two the price suddenly shoots up to an extortionate amount. Lenny and Davey’s story is punctuated by their mothers letters to the firm that produce the encyclopaedia, increasingly frustrated at the growing divide between what they promised and what she is receiving, and possibly letting some of her personal worries spill out onto the page at the same time, the correspondence is recognisable to anybody who has been hooked by a ‘first issue £1.99’ deal. This is an incredibly warm book that made me laugh out loud and shed a tear, a perfect all rounder.

Heroes: Mortals and Monsters, Quests and Adventures by Stephen Fry

Penguin

Stephen Fry is back with the second of his Greek myth series, and he has not let the standard slip from the first outing of Mythos. He brings these stories to life and had me laughing out loud the whole way through. No dusty retellings of antiquity here, if you’ve had no interest in the Greek gods and heroes before this is of no matter, it’s a riot of a read.

Lanny by Max Porter

Faber and Faber

There could have been the potential for bias here as the author of this book lives in my village, but I believe the accolades that have been heaped upon it more than support my claim for just how wonderful it is. Set in a small village (bearing no resemblance to our own, I couldn’t help but wonder if it would as I started!) we meet a young boy named Lanny, his mum and dad, and the collection of villagers who have quite the variety of quirks and eccentricities. Not only do we have the folk of the village, we have the ‘is it real/is it not’ folktale of Dead Papa Toothwort, something of a spirit that lurks around the area inspiring lore and ghost stories for centuries gone. Deciding that things have been calm a little too long around those parts, he decides to stir up a wind that will set things in motion, events that will shake the village, their trust in one another and put young, dream chaser Lanny in a most frightening position. The way Porter plays with language and prose is unique and always enchanting.

I cannot help but notice I still have 4/5 books left to go on this list, so I think best for us all if I don’t overload you all again so instead I’ll pop them into a third part! Apologies for dragging this out but there are books I simply can’t leave out, yet I’m also aware nobody wants a blog post that is going to take them an hour to read! So I hope you’ve enjoyed this selection and as ever, give a shout if you’ve read any and what you thought of them, or if you are now tempted to give one of these a go!

So until next time,

Happy Reading!

The Bell is Ringing, the Interval is Over

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