Read it if: The Name of the Star…..


I just love it when I pick up a book after a single recommendation from a fellow blogger, and not only does that book turn out to be just the kind of thing I love to read, but the first in a series. That sort of thing really makes my stony countenance stretch with joy… *insert image of Bruce grinning forcefully here*….  The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson is just such a book.

I have mentioned previously that I am a great fan of Ben Aaronovitch’s series about magic-wielding coppers in London, and this book seems to be following a very similar premise, except that it is aimed at fans of Young Adult fiction.  Essentially, main character Rory arrives in London from Louisiana to complete her final year of high school (sixth form for those in the know) at the same time as an apparent Jack the Ripper copycat killer unleashes the first gory murder in what turns out to be a historically-fairly-accurate-spree.  In an entirely separate event, Rory suffers a near-death experience, causing her to develop the ability to see ghosts.  These two happenings end up being connected in a very entertaining fashion, but I refuse to give any more spoilers.

name of the star

Read it if:

* you enjoy boarding school stories, ghost stories, murder mysteries, historical fiction, police stories, tales about famous killers, or any combination of the categories aforementioned

*you like books that can be read stand-alone, but are also part of a series

* you have ever taken an excessively large bite of an appetising dinner at a social gathering, and then immediately wished you hadn’t

*you like young adult fiction where the main character is perfectly ordinary and likeable, as opposed to riddled with angst, labouring under a ridiculously overblown attitude problem, carrying surprising amounts of emotional baggage for someone of tender years or a vampire

I thoroughly enjoyed this one, and will be getting my greasy paws on the next in the series, The Madness Underneath, as soon as the paper-pushing gargoyles in the finance department approve my loan application for essential reading material.

Until next time,


Retro Reading: Books about Puberty…..


Yes, it’s that time again – time to link arms with a trusted confidante (ie: me) and take a stroll down memory lane. BYO mosquito repellent and hayfever medication.

Recently I have been contemplating that most treacherous of life events – puberty.  A younger colleague of mine has just begun on this road to adult gargoyle-hood and is most vexed at the appearance of mould where there was no mould before.  It was while I was advising him of the necessity of a meticulous morning-and-evening cleansing routine to keep this problem in check, that I decided I should re-read some classics related to this special time for young gargoyles and fleshlings alike.

To that end I selected two that I remembered well (or at least I thought I did…): the perennial favourite Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume and Pig City by Louis Sachar.

are you there godIt may come as a surprise to those of you who have read Are You There God?…., but on re-reading I had absolutely no recollection of any of the content pertaining to Margaret’s investigations into different religions. None, whatsoever.  How could this be? I wondered – clearly, this was an important part of the main character’s growth and development throughout the plot.  It’s even mentioned in the title, for goodness sake.

It was about this time that I began to suspect that on my initial reading, drawn by content arguably more interesting to a young buck undergoing certain important life changes, that I may have skipped the bits about religion and flicked through to the advice about increasing one’s bust…..Yes, dear reader, I believe that I may have been guilty of skipping large chunks of the story in order to get to the spicy bits! Surely, though, this small infraction can be forgiven – as creatures of stone, gargoyles have a vested interest in busts (of the artistic, sculptural variety) and advice as to how to make a bigger one could be just the ticket for a gargoyle without a lower half to take a step up in the world, so to speak.

In re-reading Pig City, you will be pleased to know I did not uncover any nasty surprises about content I had forgotten, for this book was certainly on high rotation in my reading list at that time.  Strangely though, I had forgotten all about the book itself until I recently overheard something that jogged my memory and I felt an immediate need to search it out.

pig city

The story follows the sixth-grade school year of Laura Sibbie and friends as they grope their way up, down and across the social ladder through the creation of various clubs.  The initiations and subsequent fall-out of these friendships make up the bulk of the story, and very entertaining it is too.  This is a much milder take on the beginnings of adolescence than that presented in Judy Blume’s work – the characters still have the charm and innocence that Blume’s more wordly girls do not.

Having had its first outing in 1987 though, I wonder how much the events in Pig City mirror the experiences of today’s children in grade six and seven.  I can’t help but feel that the squabbles depicted here would nowadays be more likely to occur in a younger age group than the technology-savvy, know-all-about-it pre-teens of the post-noughties.

I must say, having re-dipped the toe into books about this life event, I feel I must seek out more as the embarrassing predicaments in which the characters find themselves are really quite fun to read about.

Any suggestions from fellow bloggers about classic “growing up” reads to tackle?

Until next time,