A love story starring my dead best friend by Emily Horner

First book of the school holidays and it was a great choice.  This is a great cross-over novel, meaning written with appeal to both teenage and adult readers.  Emily Horner has a great website with lots of good stuff about this book and a thoughtful blog as well.

Cass is desperately missing her friend Julia.  Julia was killed in a car crash and it has rocked all her friends and her boyfriend, but Cass and Julia had one of those friendships which was deep and complex.  A finish each others sentences kind of friendship.  Julia was obsessed with drama and was writing her masterpiece when she died, the friends decide that they should put on the show she wrote.  This creates lots of difficulties because it isn’t exactly  your standard school musical, the title is Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad which is enough to set alarm bells ringing with the school staff.

In the meantime Cass sets off on her bike, to complete the journey to California that she and Julia always planned to make, bringing Julia’s ashes with her in a tupperware container.  The bike trip is beautifully written.  The relationship she has along the way, the feelings this brings on and the mechanics of the relationship are written in a realistic way. Tentative and scary, but also with comfort. The lonliness of being on the road, the dangers from big trucks, people you meet and dealing with the memories of someone you love who has gone from your life, dealing with your emerging sexuality and also love, lots of love in many forms, all make for riveting reading.  This is a wise book.  I know my girls would have loved it when they were teenagers, but it is also a book I would give them now.  This book has lots of the feeling you get when you read John Green or David Levithan and I’m really looking forward to reading more by Emily Horner.



Sing you home by Jodi Picoult

I’ve recently finished this book, having sworn off Jodi a couple of her releases ago.  She seemed to me to be a little bit predictable, I felt I’d kind of finished with court room fiction and the issues based dramas that she tackles, and then I bought this book for my partner who reads them all – although had also been feeling a bit jaded with them.  Anyway after Sing You Home had been around the traps being read by others and they all raved over it, I thought oh well give it a whirl.

So glad I did.  It is a great book.  Of course it tackles the big issues of the day and in this book those are the difficulties facing those gay couples who hope to bring children into the world and raise them, and also the issues of frozen embryos sitting in storage created by married couples who have now broken up and who they belong to and what will happen to them.  Lots of issues.  Lots of conflicting views, ideals and expectations.  The lesbian aspect of the book had made me a little bit worried, but she does it really well.  Lovely romantic scenes, she explores the feelings really well and captures the togetherness and the isolation that often occurs in public situations for lesbians.  No words are minced when she deals with the unfairness of the law as it relates to homosexual relationships.

Then there is the whole religious thing, right wing evangelists manipulating and spending so much money to win in the law courts.  The conflicting feelings of Max the ex husband as he struggles with what is happening to him and the different directions he is being pushed.

I recommend the book to everyone.  This is as good a book as The Pact and Salem Falls which are my two favourites of Jodi Picoult and if you are a lesbian wanting a book which affirms this will be a good choice.

The  link below will take you to the Guardian website where Jodi talks about why she wrote the book and why she tackles these issues so frequently in her fiction.  Watch it here.


Trick of the dark by Val McDermid

Val McDermid is one of the most reliable crime writers around.  She always manages to keep me guessing till the end and she holds on tight to your attention, disrupts your sleep, disrupts sunny afternoons when you should be out doing other things.  I probably should confess to owning a copy of every book Val McDermid has ever written.

This one took a little while for me to get totally hooked but once I was there I was constantly reading it.  There is a very strong lesbian theme which she doesn’t explore in too many of her other books so it was quite unexpected for me. It is great to read a book with lesbian characters which treats them as real people and which doesn’t turn them into some guys fantasy.  This is gritty and real.   I really liked the main character Charlie Flint, and she is the sort of character who could easily appear in a series, nicely flawed and not dissimilar to someone you might actually meet in real life.

This is a story about a series of murders which are all linked to one person but the twists and turns lead you on a wild goose chase of multiple suspects and good guys who may not be so good. It is set in Oxford and London far from the grim North of England and Scotland where most of the books Val writes are set, and I enjoyed the change of scenery.  I liked the relationship between Charlie and her partner, I liked their conversations which seemed very ‘real’ and although I could pick a few holes in the story in a couple of places I found it a good satisfying read and I’m ready for a new book now please Val, I think you are great.

The Trevor Project

The new cause celeb in the states, but this one works for me.  Check out The Trevor Project website.   It’s about anti bullying and anti gay bashing. There is a nice line in one of the vids about being proactive and going and talking to a teenager you think might be having a hard time.  Nice thought, and now my thought:  Show these kids that you can have a normal ordinary and fulfilled life as a grown up gay person!  You don’t have to be troubled and miserable all your life, gay people are just as successful and fabulous as the rest of the population. Be out, and happy with it and happy with who you are and show by good example that life is for living.

The video here is Tim Gunn of Project Runway fame (oh how I love Project Runway) – talking about his experiences with bullying and suicide.  It is moving and very real.

Kathi Griffin says somewhere in the video below, that people don’t remember the Matthew Shepard story any more and I think she is right, and yet at the time of this incident people were so shocked and outraged.  The video below is from the Larry King show and while I’m not usually a fan it is worth investing 10 minutes to watch this one,the whole video isn’t here but you will get the drift and I guess if you want the rest you will find it on YouTube for yourselves.