Tag Archives: young adult fiction

#BookReview ‘La Belle Sauvage’ by @PhilipPullman #BookofDust

Philip PullmanI’m a great Philip Pullman fan so when word of his new series The Book of Dust was first announced, I was excited. La Belle Sauvage is volume one in the series and tells the story of eleven-year old Malcolm who lives beside the River Thames at The Trout pub at Godstow, near Oxford. One day, a baby arrives at the priory on the other side of the river. Called Lyra, mystery surrounds the child, her parentage, and why she is cared for by the nuns.

This of course is Lyra Belacqua, so familiar and beloved of Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. La Belle Sauvage is the story of Malcolm’s fascination with the baby Lyra, his relationship with scholar Hannah Relf and his suspicions about a mysterious stranger who visits The Trout. Everyone dislikes this man, despite his ready smiles and chat, because of his daemon, a three-legged hyena. Common with the first book of every series, there is a certain amount of scene setting, the laying-down of foundations for the forthcoming books. Pullman takes time and care to develop the character of Malcolm, the love he has for his canoe La Belle Sauvage, his relationships with his parents, the nuns, and Alice who works in the kitchen. Every reader of His Dark Materials knows the story of the fight between Lyra’s parents and how she was hidden in a cupboard with a gyptian boatwoman. La Belle Sauvage starts after this, when Lyra is placed in the nunnery for her safety. Lurking threat is there on every page – a light mist at first, developing into a heavy presence which will not go away – as Pullman constructs a world in which research into Dust is in its early stages; a resistance group, Oakley Street, is formed to fight The Magisterium; and the League of St Alexander radicalises schoolchildren to inform on unbelievers.

I became very fond of Malcolm. Pullman has a way of writing child characters who stand at the edge of things; they are not the most popular, the high achievers or the butterflies; but they have potential, as all children do. Pullman creates thoughtful character arcs for his child characters so we see them change and grow, facing difficulties, making mistakes, learning and maturing. In Malcolm, more than with Lyra and Will in His Dark Materials, I was conscious of Pullman’s background as a teacher. I was cheering for Malcolm, for his ingenuity, his bravery, his kind heart, his sense of fairness and justice.

If you are a novelist and haven’t read Pullman because he ‘writes for children’, you are missing out. He creates characters you care about, he expertly drip-feeds mysterious information and lays a factual base which seems irrelevant at first reading but will be revealed as essential at moments of crisis, he manages the ebbs and flows of tension, and creates a mystical world that is believable. Every fact included has a significance. He is a writer of tremendous detail, patience and care.

Just read him.

Read more about Philip Pullman’s books here.

If you like this, try:-
‘The Bear and the Nightingale’ by Katherine Arden
‘The Magicians’ by Lev Grossman
‘The Queen of the Tearling’ by Erika Johansen

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
LA BELLE SAUVAGE by @PhilipPullman #bookreview https://wp.me/p5gEM4-3k9 via @SandraDanby



My Porridge & Cream read: Chantelle Atkins @Chanatkins #books #YA

Today I’m delighted to welcome young adult author Chantelle Atkins. Her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is The Catcher In The Rye by JD Salinger.

“I first read this novel when I was fifteen years old, so around 1993/94. I discovered it when I was flat and cat sitting for my oldest sister for a weekend. Every now and then my sister and her boyfriend would have a weekend away and she would ask me to flat sit from Friday to Sunday. Of course, at this age, I absolutely jumped at the chance. I was allowed to have a friend if I wanted, but on the occasion, I started reading The Catcher In The Rye, I was alone for the entire weekend. My sister, who back then was obsessed with 1950s music and memorabilia had the coolest flat in the world. It was crammed full of retro and vintage furniture, clothes, records and books. It was a treasure chest full of goodies. Chantelle Atkins“That weekend, browsing her bookshelves, I discovered so many intriguing old books. I started reading The Catcher In The Rye [above] and could not put it down. It’s fair to say I fell completely and utterly in love. I have been in love with it ever since and have read it countless times at various stages in my life. I get something new from it every time I read it. I would say I re-read it every couple of years, mostly out of love, but also familiarity and curiosity. What else will I get from it, if I read it again? The one thing that draws me to it is the character, and I have always been drawn to character-driven books. I think this was the first one I ever really came across, where not much happened in terms of plot, but it had a character I would never forget and always feel a connection to.

“If I was to describe it as an elevator pitch, I think I would say: This classic coming-of-age story follows the exploits of a teenage runaway trying to find some meaning in life and some authenticity in the people he meets.”
Chantelle AtkinsAmazon

Chantelle Atkins’ Bio
Chantelle Atkins was born and raised in Dorset, England and still resides there now with her husband, four children and multiple pets. She is addicted to reading, writing and music and writes for both the young adult and adult genres. Her fiction is described as gritty, edgy and compelling. Her debut young adult novel The Mess Of Me deals with eating disorders, self-harm, fractured families and first love. Her second novel, The Boy With The Thorn In His Side, follows the musical journey of a young boy attempting to escape his brutal home life and has now been developed into a 6 book series. She is also the author of This Is Nowhere and award-winning dystopian, The Tree Of Rebels, plus a collection of short stories related to her novels called Bird People and Other Stories. Her next book Elliot Pie’s Guide To Human Nature was released through Pict Publishing in October 2018. She writes for Author’s Publish magazine.

Chantelle Atkins’ links

Chantelle Atkins’ latest book
Chantelle AtkinsOne boy’s mission to find the good in people. Twelve-year-old Elliot Pie lives a solitary life with his agoraphobic mother. He is desperate to help her and he also wants to find out what happened to his Uncle Liam, who walked out one night leaving his dog and his car in the back garden. While his mother sinks further into the darkness, Elliot finds comfort in people-watching. He is determined to prove to her that good people still exist and when a stranger is kind to him one day, a plan is hatched. A plan to save his mother. A plan that might help him find Uncle Liam. Elliot’s collection of strangers all have stories to tell about human nature, but is he placing his trust in the wrong people? Or is the real danger closer to home?


What is a ‘Porridge & Cream’ book? It’s the book you turn to when you need a familiar read, when you are tired, ill, or out-of-sorts, where you know the story and love it. Where reading it is like slipping on your oldest, scruffiest slippers after walking for miles. Where does the name ‘Porridge & Cream’ come from? Cat Deerborn is a character in Susan Hill’s ‘Simon Serrailler’ detective series. Cat is a hard-worked GP, a widow with two children and she struggles from day-to-day. One night, after a particularly difficult day, she needs something familiar to read. From her bookshelf she selects ‘Love in A Cold Climate’ by Nancy Mitford. Do you have a favourite read which you return to again and again? If so, please send me a message.

Discover the ‘Porridge & Cream’ books of these authors:-
Helen J Christmas chooses ‘Camellia’ by Lesley Pearse
Rosie Dean’s choice is ‘Prudence’by Jilly Cooper
‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’ by Philip K Dick is chosen by Lisa Devaney

 And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Why does #YA author @Chanatkins re-read THE CATCHER IN THE RYE by JD Salinger? #books https://wp.me/p5gEM4-3KQ via @SandraDanby