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Books to make time for Part 2: Angela and Diabola

Part 2 of my "Books to make time for" feature is here!

The second book I'd like to feature is: Angela and Diabola by Lynne Reid Banks.

What is it about?

The book follows the childhood of two twins. One is unbelievably good; practically angelic, while the other is a terror; practically devilish. The book is about the twins' relationship and the ways their parents deal with their behaviour.


Why should you make time for it?

Angela and Diabola is a book written for older children, however, I couldn't resist featuring it. I loved the often-dark subject matter, the extreme sibling rivalry and the quirky, off-beat ending. The events throughout the book are both humourous and a little bit shocking. The illustrations were brilliant and reminicent of Tim Burton/Gris Grimly. All in all, it's a book that anybody whos ever had a brother or sister will find entertaining, and may remind only children why they possibly didn't want one!

You might like this if you like...

family relationships, supernatural/fantasy fiction, grown-up kids books

This book is similar to:

The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy: And Other Stories

Where can you get it?

Find it at Amazon
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Books to find time for - Part 1

Hello - I thought I'd start a little series of posts recommending books that you may have missed the first time round the bookshop. I have been reading avidly long before I started writing this blog, so there are many books I would love to recommend that I won't necessarily get to review.

The books I feature will probably focus on books that don't get much hype (I'm thinking of hype along the lines of Harry Potter here...) and that I feel should get more recognition than they already get. Every body knows the name J.K Rowling, but do you know Anchee Min?

So, the first book I'd like to feature is: Empress Orchid by Anchee Min



What is it about?

Empress Orchid is the tale of China's last Empress. Based on the true story, the book focusses on Orchid as she enters the Forbidden City as one of the Emperor's 3000 concubines, fights the vicious female rivalry to become the Emperor's favourite and bears him a son: the Emperor's heir. All the while China is crumbling around her.

Why should you make time for it?

This book is a fascinating and emotional insight into one of the most guarded and intrigueing places in China, at a most volatile time. Though a place of great beauty and mystery, the Forbidden City shows itself to be a place of danger, corruption and devastating tradition. As you follow Orchid through her life as a concubine, you feel her longing, her pain and her desperation to honour her family. I also found the Chinese history to be well presented and not overly complicated, and although politics plays a huge part in the story I didn't find the information to be heavy going.

You might like this if you like...

memoirs, historical fiction, chinese history, royalty, secret lives

This book is similar to:

The Other Boleyn Girl
Memoirs of a Geisha

Where can you get it?

You can get Empress Orchid at Amazon and also as a Kindle Edition
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Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - REVIEW

Yesterday, I finished Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Random Riggs' first YA novel. I was very excited to read it as it's premise was a little bit different: The story is supported throughout by original vintage photographs that are strange, intriguing, and a little bit creepy!

It is a dark fantasy novel that starts off very strongly, if a little morbidly, then falls into a whirlwind of confusion and ridiculousness. Jacob Portman once idolised his Grandpa, and believed in the fantastical stories he told him of his childhood in an orphanage in Wales. However,  after watching his beloved Grandpa die from an attack by an unidentified creature, Jacob is thrown into a world of mental turmoil and horrific nightmares. No longer able to trust what is real and what isn't after witnessing something he can't explain in the forest, his parents enlist the help of a psychologist, Dr Golan, to help Jacob recover and come to terms with the tragedy. Here, the journey into the strange world of this novel truely begins. Jacob enters a time warp, meets a load of 80 year olds stuck in children's bodies, makes out with his Grandpa's ex and flouts the authority of a woman who turns into a bird. Not to mention one hell of a lengthy "final showdown" and an un-fulfilling ending.

The one word I think really sums up Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is "strange"! It's at one minute a Gothic Horror, the next minute a fantasy worthy of an audience far younger than (I think) is aimed at, and then the next minute it's some kind of Twilight incestuous romance. Very odd indeed. I found myself continuously confused as to who this book was trying to please. The romance never really took off, the horror wasn't very atmospheric, and the juvenile fantasy probably wouldn't be read by a younger audience unless guardian's approve of 11 year olds reading profanities on every other page.

I did, however, like the use of the photographs, and felt they worked and added something to the narrative. I think I will always remember turning a page to find the most unnerving picture ever over-leaf. (A picture of Jacobs "grandpa" asleep with a gun, if you read it). However, I do think the use of photos is what caused the haphazard theme. It feels as though the author lined up the photos and created the story around them, no matter how wacky, as opposed to finding images to suit a story already created. Not that there's anything wrong with that. There's probably a very limited selection of vintage photos in the world to be picking and choosing to suit! I just think the story is very telling of the method.

All in all, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a good read if you're after something a little different, dark and unchallenging. But it's no classic.
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If my life could be a photo...

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