Monday, 31 March 2014

Review: Ghost Moth by Michele Forbes

The first thing to note about Ghost Moth is its absolutely beautiful, deceptively simple cover. I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but in this case, you just can't help it.

On a white background is a shiny blue moth. But not just any moth, look closer, and you'll see the moth on the cover is made out of music notes.

The image on the front reflects what's inside - look more closely at each sentence and word, and you'll see so much more than you do at first glance.

On a trip to the beach with her family in Nothern Ireland of 1969, Katherine encounters a seal in the water who she fears may be her undoing. After staring what could have been death in the face, Katherine finds herself remembering her past - the equally hot summer of 1949 when, while seeing reliable, devoted George, she meets tailor Tom McKinley, who ignites a passion within her.

Ghost Moth flits between the two summers of 1949 and 1969, as Katherine's story is unveiled, and in some cases, unraveled. At its core, Ghost Moth is a love story - not just the love between a man and a woman, but also the love between family as well. Central to the narrative of 1969 is Katherine's family - her three daughters and her son, and her husband - and it's those relationships that really make the book so appealing.

Forbes took Ghost Moth in completely unexpected directions, but they all worked, perhaps because despite their hugeness everything happened is part of ordinary life and death. I would have liked to have seen and heard more about Northern Ireland of 1969, whose events make the plot of the story hang much heavier and take on much more significance, but Forbes was probably right to concentrate on Katherine's family and let the other events form part of the background.

In addition, Forbes' writing is exquisite. Everything you read is suffused through with meaning. From the opening scene of Katherine staring the seal in the face to the very end with Elsa, there is a hidden depth to everything. It's difficult to believe this is a debut novel - Forbes seems like she's an old pro at the form. 

For those who want to see how a novel should be done, Ghost Moth is a worthy read. It's as good inside as the cover makes it look.

How I got this book: From the publisher, Weidenfeld & Nicolson. This did not affect my review.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Review: Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe

Very few people write handwritten letters nowadays - it's all about texting and emailing and Skyping and other things.

But there's something special about a handwritten note or letter, a thrill you just don't get with other forms of communication. I have one friend with whom I still exchange handwritten letters, and despite the fact that she and I don't see each other very often, our letters connect us and bring us closer to each other.

So Love, Nina, a collection of letters from author Nina Stibbe to her sister Vic, is a joyous read. Written when Stibbe moved to London in the 1980s to become a nanny to Will and Sam Frears, the sons of London Review of Books deputy editor Mary-Kay Wilmers, the letters are a wonderful window into domestic life.

Stibbe's letters introduce us to Sam and Will, who are brilliantly clever and insightful for two young boys; their mother Mary-Kay, who balances home and work with what looks like ease and humour; and a motley collection of friends and neighbours, including the playwright Alan Bennett.

Although the letters are one-sided (Stibbe didn't keep those sent back by Vic), they form a coherent narrative. We clearly see Stibbe getting older and wiser, although as a young woman there are still plenty of awkward moments, not to mention a healthy dash of judging people and a fair amount of culinary experiments, some of which don't turn out very well. We also see the relationships she forms develop, from those with Sam and Will and Mary-Kay, which continue even after she moves out and starts going to college, to new friendships with girls and boys she can't at first seem to make head or tail of, to her friendship with Nunney, the boy from down the road.

Love, Nina is an illustration of how important letter-writing is, and how it's a skill that should be cultivated and practised regularly. Witty, heartwarming and funny, Love, Nina should have us all rushing to put pen to paper.

How I got this book: From the publisher, Penguin. This did not affect my review.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Review: Cat Out of Hell by Lynne Truss

As a general life rule, I stay away from horror because I'm a massive wuss and I don't like being scared.

But I decided to put the fear aside so I could read Lynne Truss's Cat Out of Hell, part of the Hammer novellas series from Arrow. And it sort of worked.

After the death of his wife, a man heads to a cottage with his dog for some solace. While there he goes through a file sent to him by his dead wife's colleague/friend. In the file, among other things, are audio tapes of a story being told to a man whose sister has gone missing - a story told by a cat.

And that's all I can say without spoiling it for you.

Truss uses an interesting structure for Cat Out of Hell, with the novella flipping between past, present and the very far past. Truss also employs a range of tools to tell the story, from straight narrative to emails to transcripts. It makes for good variety, and means we get to hear from a range of voices (human and not).

I can't tell you with any great expertise where Cat Out of Hell fits in the oeuvre of horror novellas since my expertise of horror literature extends to a few short stories by Edgar Allen Poe and Stephen King's Misery (which terrified me). What I can say is that Cat Out of Hell made my spine tingle in the same way Poe and King's work did, which I guess is part of its aim. In addition, I made the mistake of reading Cat Out of Hell before bed, and spent the night having really weird dreams featuring cats (again, no more details because it would spoil the book).

Still, even though there was some spine-tingling and some weird dreams, I didn't find Cat Out of Hell terrifying. It was freaky, but also very amusing. I think that lighter side came from the great voices. Our protagonist, the widower, finds himself in the middle of a very strange situation, but still has time to act very, very human - he gets exasperated over the difficulties of unpacking after being away, he is annoyed by things very easily, and he's pretty judgmental when he wants to be. In addition to him, Wiggy is also a hilarious character, who seems to be from another planet half the time, but whose value to the story is clear from the very beginning (even if he does come across as a bit dim). And then there's Roger, who is a wonderful, compelling character.

Gothic and fun, witty and clever, Cat Out of Hell is a short, sweet read. Perfect for fans of horror, it's something that even cowards like me can enjoy. Just don't read it before bed.

How I got this book: From the publisher, Arrow. This did not affect my review.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

The Sunday Post (#38) and Showcase Sunday (#24)

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer, and Showcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea and inspired by Pop Culture Junkie and the Story Siren. They're a chance to share news, a post to recap the past week on your blog, highlight our newest books and see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, or bought.

On the blog
Review: The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz
Review: The 100 by Kass Morgan
Review: Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer by Katie Alender

Added to my shelves
Last week for work I went to a presentation by Penguin Random House UK on their 2014 highlights, so I came home with quite a few books...

Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto
Half Bad by Sally Green
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Popular by Maya Van Wagenen
A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray
Munich Airport by Greg Baxter
The Chimp Paradox by Dr Steve Peters
Thrive by Arianna Huffington
Who is Tom Ditto by Danny Wallace
Mary Berry Cooks
Succession by Livi Michael
Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey
Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe
The Moon is Down by John Steinbeck
One Step To Far by Tina Seskis
A Delicate Truth by John le Carre
A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe (not pictured because it's in my kitchen)


I'm looking forward to them all, but especially Thrive because I loved Lean In; Half Bad, because I've heard it's so good; ditto for Elizabeth is Missing; and Popular, which is by a 15-year-old girl (!) and is about her experiences of trying to become cool after she finds a 1950s guide to popularity. I've read Love, Nina (look out for a review soon) already, and both the cookbooks are pretty fantastic.

I also got sent a few other books, including a copy of Attachments by Rainbow Rowell.

What did you add to your shelves?

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Review: The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz

We are in the age of Sherlock - Benedict Cumberbatch's incarnation of the famous detective is one of the most popular things on television, Elementary is doing pretty well, and there have been two successful films about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's creation in the past few years.

Despite this, it's only recently that I ventured into the source material for all of the above. While I've yet to read a full length Sherlock Holmes novel by Doyle, I have read a number of short stories, and now the first new Sherlock novel by Anthony Horowitz, The House of Silk.

As an old man in a nursing home, Watson finally starts writing down the story of one of Holmes's most difficult and disturbing cases. The reader is transported to November of 1980, with London in the grip of a cold winter. A man arrives at 221B Baker Street, worried that he is being stalked and will soon be killed. But the stalker, a man with the scar on his face, is just the beginning for Holmes and Watson, who soon find themselves in ever more danger as they try to hunt down the mysterious House of Silk.

The pressure of writing a novel featuring some of the best known fictional characters ever must be immense, and to have to write about them in their own world must make the task even harder, but Horowitz pulls off The House of Silk as easily as blinking.

The "voice" of Watson is spot on, with Horowitz putting his own stamp on it by introducing us to an older Watson, who sets the scene for the tale. Sherlock is captured brilliantly as well, and is just as frustrating and superb as he is in the Conan Doyle stories I've had.

There are references littered throughout the book to previous stories featuring Holmes, but they're subtle and show understanding of the characters, rather than used by Horowitz as a way of saying "look, I know what Holmes is all about".

And then there's the mystery itself. Extraodinarily clever, there were many times when I thought I had it sussed, only to be proved wrong. The turns fit together well, and the ending brought all the strands together in a coherent, believable way.

Murder, intrigue, danger, and a clever, twisting plot make this an unputdownable novel. It might not be Conan Doyle, but Horowitz has created a perfect Sherlock Holmes story.

How I got this book: Bought.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Review: The 100 by Kass Morgan

I admit, I mostly picked up The 100 by Kass Morgan because the blurb on the back said it was developed in conjunction with Alloy Entertainment, who are behind Gossip Girl (and The Vampire Diaries, but I don't watch that).

The 100 (said The Hundred) is pretty well set up to be made into a television programme. One hundred teenagers, jailed for their crimes aboard the spaceship they live on, are sent back to Earth, which has been devoid of human life since a nuclear war centuries ago. When they land on Earth, these 100 teenagers must set about exploring their new world, and learning how to survive.

I think it's a great concept, and I really enjoyed all the aspects of The 100 that covered how Earth was destroyed, how new colonies were set up in spaceships and how the 100 go about creating a society from scratch. The politics onboard the spaceships - the poor live on Walden and Arcadia, the rich on Phoenix; the strict population rules; the new kind of democracy - were fascinating. I particularly enjoyed the power struggle that played out very subtly between the Chancellor and the Vice Chancellor in both the present time and through a series of flashbacks.

The book is told through alternating focus on four teenagers (with flashbacks to how they got to where they are in the present day). Clarke was arrested for treason and both her parents are dead. Wells is the Chancellor's son and only wants to make things up to Clarke, the girl he loves. Glass escapes just before the ship transports her to earth, and discovers life on Phoenix is pretty dangerous too. And Bellamy fights his way on to the ship to earth to protect his younger sister. Each of them has a different role to play within the book, especially Glass who is our only pair of eyes into the present time aboard the space ships, so it's good to have a variety of characters to see this world through.

Like on the spaceships, the politics on Earth are interesting as the teenagers go about creating a whole new world from scratch. How do you create a democracy? Do you even want to create a democracy, or is a dictatorship better in a situation like this? Who gets to be in charge - the brains or the brawn? All interesting questions that play out over the course of The 100.

While I enjoyed the aforementioned aspects, I did feel The 100 was let down by its focus on romance. Most of the time, The 100 felt like a romantic novel set in a dystopian world, rather a dystopian story with elements of romance. I definitely wanted to spend less time reading about the romantic entanglements of the characters and more about the way they dealt with the problems of the world they were in. The romances, or not in some cases, didn't add any welcome tension. There is enough tension in the situations the teenagers find themselves in (in the past and present) to create a compelling story.

Having just watched the trailer for the television version of The 100, it seems like they've dispensed with much of the romance to focus on the core issue of reinhabiting Earth. That's exactly what the book should have done, and what I hope its sequel will do. In the meantime, The 100 may be good enough for a television series, but it's not a must read unless you like your plot taking second place to your romance.

How I got this book: From the room of unwanted books at work.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Review: Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer by Katie Alender

Fun, fun, fun - that's the kind of read Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer is.

Okay, I know it's got lots of murders in it, but it's also about the ghost of Marie Antoinette killing people and an American girl on a trip to Paris with her mean girl friends who is key to solving the crimes.

Colette is glad to escape to Paris on a school trip - her parents have split up and she, her mother and her younger brother have moved into a tiny flat. There's no way she can let her friends Pilar and Hannah know - the two of them wouldn't understand what it's like to have little money. As her trip to Paris progresses, she finds herself attracted to the cute tour guide and reassessing her friendships, as well as, you know, seeing the ghost of Marie Antoinette. As you do.

This is definitely the kind of book you should read if you're looking for something frivolous but with a decent plot and a variety of characters. I liked Colette, and watching her grow and mature through the book was good. Her schoolmates and friends all played vital roles, and the setting felt just like something from a teen rom com, apart from the whole ghost murdering people thing.

That aspect of it was well executed though (excuse the unintentional pun). I liked the slow build, and the parts in between chapters where yet another murder was carried out. It was interesting to see the pieces falling into place (another unintended pun) and the key scenes at the end were exhilarating.

If I had to find fault with the book, I would say that Colette's realisations were a little too perfect, particularly when it came to her family. The lessons were learned just a bit quickly and everything was tied up very neatly.

Still, that's a small thing in the bigger context. This isn't a book to sit down and pore over and find hidden meaning in. It's designed to thrill and be a fun reading experience. In other words, it's a pure pleasure read.

How I got this book: From the room of unwanted books at work.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

The Sunday Post (#37) and Showcase Sunday (#23)

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer, and Showcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea and inspired by Pop Culture Junkie and the Story Siren. They're a chance to share news, a post to recap the past week on your blog, highlight our newest books and see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, or bought.

It's been a few weeks since my last one of these, so on the blog covers a larger time period than the last week.

On the blog
Review: Knightley and Son by Rohan Gavin
Review: The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld
Review: Landline by Rainbow Rowell
International Women's Day post
Review: Her by Harriet Lane
Review: Heist Society by Ally Carter
Review: The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan
Review: The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera

Added to my shelves

It's been an extremely busy week of events. On Monday I went to the announcement of The Folio Prize, and my goody bag contained a copy of Rachel Kushner's shortlisted The Flamethrowers.

I read Harriet Lane's Her recently and absolutely adored it, so the publisher sent me Alys, Always by the author, which I'm trying very hard to resist reading until I've read other books I've got in my unread piles.

I unashamedly love The Musketeers, the BBC's adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers. You have to watch it without expecting it to be faithful to the book, and take it for the fun piece of television it is. BBC Books has done a new translation of the original novel, so Ebury sent me a copy of that.

Allan Boroughs sent me a copy of his book Ironheart, which looks really interesting and has what sounds like a great female protagonist.

I brought home The Apple Tart of Hope by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald, which was given to me by the lovely Felicity at Orion.

And I went to The Night of the Storytellers last week, Hodder & Stoughton's sales conference for 2014. They've got some amazing looking stuff coming up this year, and I got to hear Davids Nicholls and Mitchell read from their new books as part of the evening. In the gorgeous goody bag I got copies of The Secret Place by Tana French, A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, The Art of Baking Blind by Sarah Vaughan (Vaughan was also there and read aloud from her book) and Smiler's Fair by Rebecca Levene.

I also went to the Orion author party at the Royal Opera House, and Orion gave us special author party editions of The Distance by Helen Giltrow and Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch. The books, when put side by side, have an image of the Royal Opera House on the front and OG on the back (for Orion Group). Inside, they're each identified as one of 500 copies.

What did you add to your shelves?

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Review: The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera

From its cover and its blurb, The Awakening of Miss Prim looks like a quaint little novel about a woman who finds love in a small village called San Ireneo.

Yet once you start reading you soon realise it's about so much more than that - feminism, the arguments for and against formal education, the benefits or not of marriage and more all crop up as discussion points.

Prudencia Prim responds to an advert in a paper for a private librarian. Despite being overqualified, she lands the job and soon finds herself sorting the vast library of the Man in the Wingchair, who spends his time teaching the children of the village about great literature and art and ideas.

As Miss Prim becomes a part of the village she finds herself making friends with an extraordinary group of people, and finds her core ideas and beliefs challenged.

The Awakening of Miss Prim is a difficult novel to describe, because whatever I think of to describe the characters or settings or plot is not quite right. 

Its setting is sort of a Stepford-like village, but not in a creepy way (see, already running into trouble). Instead, its population have come together and created an idyll according to their desires and beliefs. The characters in The Awakening of Miss Prim are quirky, but not unusual. Rather, they live the lives they want and do so peacefully, detached in some ways from the rest of the world, but not to their detriment. And the plot is more of a discussion of ideas rather than a beginning to a middle to an end, although Miss Prim does most definitely go on a journey.

The Awakening of Miss Prim is an unusual tale, which left me sometimes sharing the opinion of Miss Prim and sometimes sharing the opinions of those around her (without spoiling it, let's just say that the inhabitants of San Ireneo have some strange ideas that sort of make sense once you think about them), and sometimes just wondering what on earth was happening. I did find it a little confusing at times, and I'm not sure I liked the way the Man in the Wingchair was referred to throughout as the Man in the Wingchair - it felt a little jarring after a while once we got to know him. But I absolutely adored the ending and found the book a really stimulating read.

Yes, The Awakening of Miss Prim is a charming and quaint love story, but it's also a book that will make you think and question what you think you know and why you hold the beliefs you do on some issues, and make you wish that San Ireneo was a real place.

The Awakening of Miss Prim is released on June 5 2014.

How I got this book: From the publisher, Abacus. This did not affect my review.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Review: The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan

If you keep up to date with news from the book world, you'll know that Donal Ryan's The Spinning Heart won the Guardian First Book Award late last year, and that only means the number of people raving about it has increased a hundred fold.

I'm always a bit cautious when it comes to books that have been hyped a lot, worried about whether they'll live up to expectations. The Spinning Heart definitely exceeded my expectations (which were pretty high to begin with).

In the wake of the financial collapse in Ireland, a group of characters in a small town tell their stories, offering a picture of their lives that they don't outwardly show.

Ryan's first person narrative switches in every chapter to a new character, who tells us not just what is happening and the conservations they have had and the things they have seen, but also what they are thinking and feeling and hoping and fearing, and they do it all in the language and tone of rural Ireland. It took me a page or so to get into the rhythm of the dialogue, but once I did I could so clearly hear the voice and accent in my head.

As the book progresses, the reader is able to piece together the central plot running through the novel, which unfolds through the eyes and ears and minds of everyone we meet. It's a fascinating way of storytelling, one that seems really truthful - in real life people only know bits and pieces of things, so multiple viewpoints are needed to figure everything out.

From its opening lines ('My father still lives back the road past the weir in the cottage I was reared in. I go there every day to see is he dead and every day he lets me down) to the very end, Ryan pulls no punches with The Spinning Heart. In a brief 156 pages Ryan has crafted a novel that tells the story not just of a town, but of a country. That's some achievement.

How I got this book: From the publisher, Transworld. This did not affect my review. 

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Review: Heist Society by Ally Carter

A story about glamourous, clever teenagers running around Europe and America planning to steal back a lot of really expensive, really rare art? Yes, please.

Ally Carter's Heist Society is one of those fun, frivolous books that you didn't know you wanted to read until you were doing so.

Katarina Bishop has given up her old life as the daughter of a world-class thief. At least, that's what she thought. Now she's been expelled from her exclusive boarding school and has found out her father is accused of stealing a collection of art from a really, really mean guy. With no other option, Katarina must head back into the world she tried to escape, and with a group of friends try to set things right.

Let's be clear, Heist Society requires you to suspend disbelief. The action takes place over roughly two weeks and in that time Katarina - a 15-year-old girl - manages to jet between America, England, France, Italy and a couple of other places numerous times. That alone seems unrealistic (although her friend/love interest is super rich and has access to private planes). Add to that the fact that Katarina - remember that she's a 15-year-old girl - is threatened by a grown man who probably would be better off speaking to actual adults about his stolen art, that she and her friends plan a heist that's huge and audacious, and that they all manage to flirt and joke throughout. 

But you know what? None of that matters, because Heist Society is a great read. The story has a solid female protagonist - clever, tough, independent - and the action is fast and full on and you get completely caught up in it. I found myself tearing through the book, wanting to know what happened next, and most importantly, I really enjoyed reading it.
The best way to sum up Heist Society is that it's Ocean's Eleven meets Gossip Girl. How could you not want to read that book?

How I got this book: Borrowed.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Review: Her by Harriet Lane

Reading Her by Harriet Lane is a bit like going out when it's raining very, very slightly - you're aware that it's wet, but it's only when you get to the end of the journey that you realise you're completely drenched.

With Her, I knew there was something sinister going on with the characters, but it was only when I finished the novel that I realised just how bad things had ended up.

Nina spots Emma across the street one day, and immediately recognises her. Accomplished and successful, she draws Emma into her life, and Emma, caught up in the struggles of motherhood, is grateful. Only Emma doesn't remember Nina, and is unaware that Nina's motives aren't exactly altruistic.

Her is an absolutely absorbing read with brilliant characterisation, which really drives the book. In terms of stuff that happens, the plot is pretty thin - this is a book that is definitely about how people create situations rather than one where characters just happen to exist within a plot.

Nina is creepy from the start. Slightly too perfect, from the moment we meet her it's clear her intentions towards Emma are not good. Emma, on the other hand, is likeable, but quite naive. There are moments when it's so obvious Nina is behind something that you just want to reach in to the pages, grab Emma and point her to the evidence.

Chapters are told alternatively from Nina and Emma's points of view, with both recounting their own lives, as well as their encounters with each other. At first, I was a little uncertain about this - did I really want to read about the same things twice? But I soon realised that Lane had crafted two very different characters with different motives, which meant the same incidents could be read completely differently, and each telling would shed a little more light on them.

The big mystery of how Nina and Emma know each other is a good one. I half guessed at their shared past, but the truth was much more sinister, as was the ending. Difficult to talk about without spoiling, all I will say is that what I hope happened at the end and what I think actually happened at the end are two very different things.

A wonderful, clever read, Lane's Her is a book I would definitely recommend.

Her is released on June 12.

How I got this book: From the publisher, Weidenfeld and Nicolson. This did not affect my review.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

International Women's Day

On this International Women's Day, it seems appropriate to honour the great female writers and characters out there.

First up, a few of my favourite books by female authors:
  • Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg - a powerful book that really hammers home that you can do anything you put your mind to, glass ceilings be damned.
  • We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver - a book about the strength of a woman and about a family torn apart.
  • The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld - I read this very recently, and it grabbed hold of me and still hasn't let go. Brutal, heartbreaking and so worth the read.
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - just a perfect, perfect read that is funny and nostalgic and sweet and hurts a little bit (but just a little).
Secondly, a few of my favourite female characters:
  • Sara from The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett - one of my favourite books from childhood, I really wanted to be Sara. 
  • Katniss from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - kicks arse, sacrifices herself for her family, brave. What more can be said?
  • Cress from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer - I guess Cinder or Scarlet would be the more obvious choices, but I like that Cress clearly goes from being a scared little girl to being a woman in her book, and that we see that development.
Some famous women that I think rock:
  • Malala Yousafzai - seriously, she is amazing. If you haven't see it (and why not?) here's her speech to the UN. 
  • Hadley Freeman - my favourite fashion writer, she's got a sense of humour and I'll read just about anything by her, even if I'm not interested in the subject matter. Here's a link to her Guardian profile.
  • Kate Mosse - one of the founders of the Women's Prize for Fiction, Mosse is one of the loveliest people I've ever interviewed, not to mention a brilliant writer.
Next, if you haven't seen it already, here is the longlist for this year's Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction. 

Womankind has put together a list of books if you're doing a women's book group, and you can find them here.

For a bit of fun, why not take this Guardian quiz about the best fictional females in children's books?

I'd love to hear about your favourite female writers and characters, so let me know in the comments below.


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