Thursday 28 June 2012

The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

The Clan of the Cave Bear is not in my reading comfort zone.  Whilst I like historical fiction, fantasy and big, complex multi-book epics are not my thing.  I've been burned by Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time (I plodded through to book seven before admitting defeat).  But I was in a picky reading mood and felt like a change, so Clan of the Cave Bear it was.

Ayla is a young girl orphaned by an earthquake in prehistoric times.  Only five and left to wander helplessly looking for food and water, she is attacked by a cave lion before chancing upon a group of Neanderthal.  Taken in by the medicine woman, Iza, and the holy man, Creb, Ayla is bought up as a Neanderthal, as one of the Clan.  But despite her best efforts she is different and finds it hard to conform to all of their customs and rituals.  The leader, Brun, is accepting and lenient, but the future leader Broud, develops a deep resentment towards Ayla.  As she comes of age her differences become more apparent and tensions appear in the Clan. As they prepare for a Clan gathering with other groups of Neanderthals, things build to a head for Ayla and her adopted family.

I was ambivalent about The Clan of the Cave Bear.  I found it to have a very slow start and it took me a good hundred pages or so out of five hundred to actually get involved with the story.  It was hard to connect with Ayla properly until she was a bit older, but once I had connected with her I started enjoying the book a lot more as I did want to find out what would happen to her.  The first time she got into trouble with the Clan, I was gripped, but as the book went on the structure became a bit repetitive.  It basically went like this:  Ayla breaks a Clan custom because she is different, Broud wants her to have a death curse, the men have extended deliberations, Brun finally decides to accept Ayla back.  This happens two or three times and so the tension was lost; Ayla didn't seem to be in any danger of being cut off from the Clan whilst Brun was in charge.

I admire the world building in The Clan of the Cave Bear.  The prehistoric times are bought back to life vividly and it's easy to tell that Auel has thought about every aspect of Clan life and ritual before writing.  The slow pace meant that this world could be fully introduced and also that there was time for all the characters to shine and be developed, not just Ayla.  I was fond of the leader, Brun, and the calm, logical approach he took to the people he was responsible for.  Even the villain of the piece, Broud, is a balanced character and Auel takes the time to explain his motivation for acting in the way he does towards Ayla.

In fact, my main issue with The Clan of the Cave Bear was how long it took for me to read it - almost two weeks.  This is unheard of for me, even if I did choose to read it during a busy time at work.  To put it into perspective - I read Anna Karenina faster than I did this!  And even more so than the time it took, Cave Bear felt like an effort to read and get through.  There was so much background information that it became dense and at points it took me days to get through a single chapter.  I wanted to finish it because of the characters and world building, but it was hard work and a book like this shouldn't be.  So whilst there was a cliffhanger ending and I am interested to see what Ayla will do next, I'll hold off reading Valley of the Horses for a while yet.

Source: Personal copy
First Published: 1980
Score: 3 out of 5

Monday 25 June 2012

The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams

I always thought David Walliams was just some averagely funny comedian from the TV who had used his celebrity to get mediocre books published (mentioning no names, Katie Price!).  But I needed something new to read to my class of ten year olds, so another teacher recommended The Boy in the Dress.

And it was, without a doubt, the best book I've read to my class all year.  David Walliams had them hanging on to every word and begging me to read past home time in order to find out what would happen next.  Some even went out in their own time and bought copies of this and other Walliams books; there's almost a Walliams book club going on during silent reading time now!  I will meet fierce resistance if I read anything but another Walliams book next.

The Boy in the Dress is all about Dennis, who lives with his Dad and big brother John after his Mum has left the family.  They are a very macho family with a strict no-hugging rule (except during football matches), but Dennis is different.  When he becomes friends with budding fashion designer Lisa (who is also the prettiest girl in the school), she encourages him to just be himself.  Before he knows it, Dennis is posing as French exchange student Denise, but will his disguise last?

As a teacher, there was so much I liked about the book.  Walliams doesn't patronise his readers, but instead includes them in a jokey narrative and lets them think for themselves.  There is plenty of humour, and enough rude/ slightly edgy jokes to keep them satisfied, but Walliams never goes too far.  Quentin Blake's illustrations are of course marvellous.  It appealed to everyone in the class, whatever their gender or interests as it's mainly about feeling different, and who hasn't ever felt different?

The cross dressing story is sensitively done too.  Walliams wisely steers clear of any sexuality issue and makes Dennis just a typical, football loving boy who happens to like wearing dresses.  My children thought it was strange at first (especially the boys) but by the end all of the children in my inner-city class were cheering for Dennis and his right to wear whatever he wanted.  When he gets in trouble for wearing a dress, they were vocally outraged and angry on his behalf. 

And that's what I loved; because without even knowing it, they had learned that everyone's different and that you don't have to conform with what everyone expects you to be.  That boys don't have to love football and girls dresses, that boys and girls aren't too different after all.

Highly recommended for 8+

Thursday 21 June 2012

An Apology

Apologies for my absence this week, I've not been around much on my blog or anyone else's (I dread to think of the amount of unread posts in my google reader!).  I'm caught up in the end of academic year teacher stress of final assessments, report writing, parents evenings and panicking about next year!

My reports have to be finished this weekend and after that the pressure should ease a bit and I'm looking forward to getting back to blogging then and to having some free time to spend as I choose.  Four weeks and one day until the summer holidays start and I can't wait!

Monday 18 June 2012

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Victoria has spent her life in the care system, rejected by many foster parents due to her difficult and violent behaviour.  Now eighteen years old, she is left to fend for herself with nothing but her love of flowers.  Flowers were used in Victorian times to express emotions and Victoria becomes fascinated with this language.  Her talent is spotted by a florist but can Victoria ever learn to function in society?

I liked The Language of Flowers because of the main character, Victoria herself.  I've read many a review of this book where the reviewer bemoans the fact that Victoria isn't likeable and that her actions don't make sense.  And it's true - Victoria is a frustrating, passive individual who makes noises about wanting to improve her life but waits for said life to fall in her lap, that's if she's not busy pushing away people who care about her and rejecting opportunities.  To a functional adult, this makes no sense.  But I didn't mind that Victoria wasn't likeable or function because she was believable.

I don't teach children of Victoria's age but I've taught a few younger versions of her and for me, her character was completely plausible and I felt sorry for her.  As a child she was violent to others and as an adult she's defensive and closed to the point where she can't relate to the people around her, even Renata, who offers her a job, and Grant, who tries to love her.  She has many chances of happiness but at least early in the book, she throws them all away.  I liked that Diffenbaugh chose such a complex individual to write about and think that she had some important points to make about the foster system and how a life lived in it can effect a person.

I found The Language of Flowers to be a gripping read.  Diffenbaugh intersperses chapters about Victoria at eighteen with chapters about the time she spent at ten with the woman who nearly adopted her.  I enjoyed both storylines and found the book hard to put down, even though at times it was like watching a car crash.  The novel was effectively written and pacy, but the writing was secondary to the story and the story took a backseat to character development.

My only criticism is that things improved for Victoria too quickly; I don't think there's many eighteen year olds fresh out of the care system that have the opportunities that she does and I don't think there are many of us that learn to change the habits of a lifetime like Victoria did, even if she took her time to do so.  I thought her character development was well written, but maybe overly optimistic.  There's thousands of Victoria's out there that don't make it.

Source: Library (reserved)
First Published: 2011
Score: 4.5 out of 5

Saturday 16 June 2012

A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar by Suzanne Joinson

I love to travel.  I don't get a chance to do it very often, so armchair travelling is often the next best thing.  As soon as I heard about A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar, I knew I would have to read it and was thrilled to be approved for a copy on Netgalley.

A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar is a dual narrative story set in the past and the present.  In 1923, Evangeline (Eva) and her sister set out on a missionary trip to the Silk Road city of Kashgar, which has a fusion of Chinese and Islamic culture.  But Eva is only pretending to be a missionary; she dreams of becoming an adventurer like her hero Richard Burton and of writing a best-selling account of her travels.  In the present day, Frieda works for a think tank travelling around various Arab countries and producing reports.  Returning to London after another long trip she finds Tayeb sleeping by her door and a letter informing her of an inheritance from someone she has never heard of.

A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar contains many elements that I generally love in fiction - a dual narrative, historical fiction elements, Islamic culture, travel and feminism/independent women.  I was expecting to love it and it completely lived up to my expectations.  After a bit of a slow start the pace picked up and I was soon completely engrossed in what would happen to Eva and Frieda.  What I loved most was the way the author's love of travel completely suffused the whole novel and how Eva grew up reading travel books, just like I did;

"It was reading her descriptions of the candles and lights and the mysterious glittering interiors, the tapirs, silks, the jewels and hangings that had inspired my desire to travel."

As with any dual narrative book, one story was stronger than the other.  Whilst I enjoyed reading about Frieda, it was Eva's story that captivated me.  The woman in charge of their missionary trip, Millicent, has no concept of sensitivity to local culture and the three women soon find themselves in danger, forcing Eva to confront the darker side of travel ("despite a childhood of examining maps and reading adventure stories, I realise I am quite terrified of the desert").  I just flew through Eva's sections of the book.

Although I subjectively loved this book, I can see that it's not without fault.  At times it feels like Joinson is trying to do too much, commenting on travel, motherhood, women's rights, prejudice against Muslims, alternative childhoods, cults and adultery.  Some readers won't connect with Frieda's story.  But despite all of this, I just loved A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys travel books or historical fiction.

Source: From Bloomsbury, via Netgalley
Published: 4th June 2012
Score: 4.5 out of 5

Read Alongside:
1. The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark - Another dual narrative travel story, this one set in India.  One of the stories centers around two unconventional Victorian women and India is a character in it's own right.
2. The Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger - Sally travels to Egypt with her mistress, Lady Duff Gordon and finds the restraints of Victorian society slightly loosened.  Wonderful descriptions of Egypt.

Wednesday 13 June 2012

Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zukoff

Lost In Shangri-La is a true life adventure story.  In 1945, a group of American service men and women stationed in Dutch New Guinea got on a plane with the intention of seeing the mysterious 'hidden' valley of Shangri-La.  They never made it - their plane crashed into the jungle and only three survived.  Surrounded by hostile terrain, potentially unfriendly natives and with life-threatening injuries, they began battling to survive.  Lost in Shangri-La chronicles what happened afterwards from their meetings with tribespeople who had no previous interaction with the outside world to the daring rescue mission put into place to try to save them.

I thoroughly enjoyed Lost in Shangri-La.  It was a rare case of a non-fiction book where both the content and the writing exceeded expectations.  What happened to the three survivors was fascinating and I found it hard to put the book down, so keen was I to find out what would happen to them next.  This is one of those true stories you couldn't make up, full of adventure from the moment the plane crashed into the jungle.

I was also impressed with Zuckoff's writing style.  He relays the events clearly and at a good pace, adding background information but not overwhelming the reader with it.  I especially appreciated the sections where the survivors interact with the native tribespeople - Zuckoff included the impressions of the survivors and the natives, making it easy to see the frequent miscommunication.  Given the amount of research Zuckoff had conducted and the fact that he had travelled to New Guinea to interview the native population, these sections fascinated me.  The survivors were thought of as spirits descended from the sky heralding the end of their civilisation as it currently existed.

Whilst all of the book was written at a brisk pace, I much preferred the earlier sections straight after the crash as there was a greater sense of tension due to the danger the survivors found themselves in.  I did enjoy reading about the resuce mission but at this point the danger had passed so I was less invested in the text.  I would also liked to have read a bit more about what happened to the natives after the survivors left; Zuckoff does let us know what life is like for them now but I wanted the details - how did their way of life finally change forever?

Lost in Shangri-La is one of the most engaging non-fiction texts I've read for quite some time.  It will appeal to anyone who enjoys a good adventure story. 

Source: TLC book tours
First Published: 2011
Score: 4.5 out of 5

Want to read more?
The rest of the tour stops can be found here.

Sunday 10 June 2012

Armchair BEA Giveaway Winner!

Thanks to everyone who took the time to enter my Armchair BEA giveaway, I had 118 entries.  Using, the winner is:
#72 - Rebecca
I've emailed Rebecca and she has 48 hours to respond with her email address.   She chose Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.

Friday 8 June 2012

Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte

Agnes Grey is a semi-autobiographical account of life as a governess in nineteenth-century England.  Agnes decides to take a position to support herself and her family and is shocked by the behaviour of her young charges in both of the families in which she works.  She experiences the frustrations and difficulties of the job and the loneliness that comes from being not a part of the family, but not quite a servant either.

This review will be quite a personal one about my own reaction to the book.  As a teacher, I read this through a different viewpoint to other readers and as such, I loved the book.  Although it was published in 1847, I found myself nodding along with the descriptions of Agnes as she struggled to control the children in her first position, thinking back to my own experiences as a trainee teacher.  She makes all the classic mistakes I made; wanting to be liked by her pupils, not always following through on her warnings, taking any criticism of her skills very personally.  Learning to teach and control a class is a steep slope and it takes time and plenty of mistakes.

As Agnes remains in her first position in difficult circumstances, her abilities as a governess improve and she develops a common sense approach that is very similar to how I approach my pupils now;

"Patience, firmness and perseverance were my weapons, and these I resolved to use to the utmost. I determined always strictly to fulfil the threats and promises I made, and, to that end, I must be cautious to threaten and promise nothing that I could not perform.  Then, I would carefully refrain from all useless irritability and indulgence of my own ill temper."

With teaching, it seems like the more things change, the more they stay the same.  I felt for Agnes when she was criticised for things out of her control and expected to maintain perfect behaviour without any power to do so.  When the father of the family took to performing unexpected 'checks' on Agnes, the pressure it induced reminded me of an OFSTED inspection now!  She is expected to give up all her time to her job, sacrificing her own life and interests; that hasn't changed too much either in the intervening 150+ years.

I also very much enjoyed Anne Bronte's writing style.  Although I've read books by Charlotte and Emily, this is the first book by Anne I've tried and I thought it was a good mix of Charlotte's perceptiveness about emotions blended with a sharp wit that reminded me a bit of Austen.  Like Agnes, I am a very reserved person, so I could identify with her and her struggles not to 'impose herself' on anyone.

The only criticism I will make of the book is that it makes an abrupt turn into a romance about two thirds of the way through.  It starts out as an account of life as a governess and then becomes almost not about that at all and instead about Agnes' romance.  I found the shift abrupt and a bit jarring, almost as if Anne felt that she had to include a romance to make it appeal to most readers. 

Agnes Grey is a quiet, character driven book that probably won't appeal to those who enjoy action and adventure.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope to soon read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Bronte's other published novel.

Source: Library
First Published: 1847
Score: 4.5 out of 5

Wednesday 6 June 2012

The Diamond Queen by Andrew Marr

Andrew Marr is one of my favourite journalists/ political reporters.  Pre-blogging, I have enjoyed both My Trade, a history of British journalism and The Making Of Modern Britain.  So when, amongst the flurry of diamond jubilee books and biographies of various members of the Royal Family published recently, I saw that he had written a history of Queen Elizabeth's monarchy, I knew I would want to read it.

Although The Diamond Queen is marketed as a very personal account of the life of Queen Elizabeth II, it isn't really.  It's a history of her dynasty (the Windsors) and her reign.  It covers major world events, her relationships with various Prime Ministers and above all seeks to answer the question of whether monarchy is still relevant in twenty-first century Britain and what the Queen's role actually is.  Of course there are mentions of various scandals and her private life is covered, but anyone expecting a gossipy account of relationships should look elsewhere.

On the whole, I enjoyed The Diamond Queen.  Marr's writing was simple and easy to follow and his arguments were always explained clearly.  He has an interesting spin on events and the writing comes across as if he is in the room talking to you, which makes the book lively to read.  I liked the structure of the book; where long chapters on the history of various decades were broken up with 'interludes' about a theme that doesn't depend on time, such as money or travel.  This prevented the book from being too dense and it never felt like a struggle to pick it up.

I was particularly interested to learn that lots of things I take for granted about the monarchy were only decided by the Queen's Grandfather, and that the role of the monarch has constantly evolved, even in Elizabeth's reign.  For example, Elizabeth's mother was the first 'common' (i.e. non Royal) woman permitted to marry into the Royal Family, before that it was all princes and princesses.  There was a section at the end of the book where Marr speculates how the role of monarchy will change again when and if Charles becomes King; will he still be the head of state for Canada and Australia?

As in most non-fiction books, some parts were more interesting than others.  I was more engaged in the later sections as I have actually lived through these times and was therefore more familiar with the material.  Marr admits in the introduction of the book that he is a pro-monarchy so there is no criticism of the Queen to be found here, although he does sometimes criticise the behaviour of other members of the family, providing some balance.  On the whole, it's interesting as a history of the times and as an examination of how the role of the monarch has changed in recent years.

Source: Kindle
First Published: October 2011
Score: 3.5 out of 5

Tuesday 5 June 2012

Armchair BEA: International Giveaway

So it's day two of Armchair BEA and that means it's giveaway time!  As the theme for the day is favourite reads of 2012, I've decided to offer a giveaway featuring some of my favourite reads for the year so far.

Rules of the giveaway:
* Everyone who enters gets one entry.
* You don't have to be a follower of my blog, although new followers are very much appreciated.
* Giveaway open to anywhere that the Book Depository ships to.
* Choose which book you would like to receive now, but you can always change your mind if you win.
*Closing date - Sunday 10th June 2012 at 12pm GMT.
*The winner will be contacted by email and will have 48 hours to provide a mailing address.

On to the books!

Option 1 - Gillespie and I by Jane Harris:
Gillespie and I is narrated by Harriet Baxter, a spinster looking back at the time she spent with the artist Ned Gillespie at Glasgow's Great Exhibition of 1888.  It was a difficult time for the family, but is Harriet all that she makes herself out to be?

I loved this one for the unreliability and wonderful creepiness of the narrator, Harriet.  It's a book you definitely won't forget.

Option 2 - Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller:
This is a retelling of the Trojan War from the point of view of Patroclus, who has grown up with the famous hero Achilles.  Their friendship grows into something more and the human story of their relationship is told against the backdrop of Greek Mythology.

I wasn't expecting to love this book as I'm not a massive fan of mythology.  But the human story is simply beautiful and Miller is a deserving winner of the Orange Prize.  Regular readers, I'm sorry for yet again going on about this book!

Option 3 - Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch
Jaffy Brown is a child in Victorian London living in poverty.  After a chance encounter with a tiger, he meets Jamrach, owner of a menagerie and goes to work for him. One opportunity leads to another and Jaffy is soon a sailor on an expedition searching for the Komodo Dragon.  But disaster strikes the ship and the sailors face hardship after hardship, leading to horrible consequences.

This is an old-fashioned rip-roaring adventure story with a darker side as the need for survival starts to overtake human ideas.  I can guarantee that this book will stay with you once you have read it.

Option 4 - The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman
The story of Jewish resistance to Roman soldiers in the fort of Masada in 70AD, told by four very different women.  Yael's mother died in childbirth and she has been blamed for it ever since. Revka is a baker's wife who witnessed horrific things when her village was destroyed. Aziza wants to be a warrior, but is trapped by her gender. And Shirah has followed the man she loves to the fortress, putting her children in danger.

The Dovekeepers is historical fiction at it's best - it doesn't just tell you about Ancient Israel, it takes you there.

Fill out the form to enter:

Monday 4 June 2012

Armchair BEA: Introductions

This is my first year of participating in Armchair BEA and I'm hoping to meet some great new bloggers.  The task for today is to introduce myself by answering some interview questions:

1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?

I'm Sam (the female kind), I'm 26 and I'm a primary school teacher from the UK.  I'm just finishing up my third year as a full time teacher and so far it's been a rollercoaster - I've come a long way but I still have so much to learn.  I'm studying astrophysics in my free time and I'm just coming up to my one year wedding anniversary.  I've been blogging for two years in August.  I used to have a livejournal and I got into book blogging when one of my livejournal friends started a book blog - Borough of Books.

2. What literary location would you most like to visit? Why?

Ever since reading Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian, I've dreamed about visiting and touring Eastern Europe.  The furthest East I've been so far is Vienna, but one day I will make it to Romania, I'm sure.

3. What is your favorite feature on your blog (i.e. author interviews, memes, something specific to your blog)?

I don't tend to stick to any memes - I do the Sunday Salon every now and again and if I've just bought a few books I might do the odd post to show them off.  My favourite feature is honestly reviews and that's what I look for on other blogs too.  In my Google reader I tend to skim past memes and hunt out the reviews.

4. What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2012?

I'm currently reading Agnes Grey by Charlotte Bronte.  I've read more classics since starting blogging and I am enjoying this one, perhaps because as a teacher I can relate to the role of governess.  My favourite read of 2012 so far is Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch.  It's set in Victorian London and is about a street boy who ends up as a sailor.  I knew nothing about it before starting so was shocked and caught up with what happens when there is a shipwreck.

5. Where do you see your blog in five years?

I hope to still be posting reviews about books I've enjoyed and connecting with other book bloggers.  I'm not bothered about switching to Wordpress or buying my own domain, I just want to carry on enjoying book blogging.

Sunday 3 June 2012

Sunday Salon: The Diamond Jubilee Edition

Here in the UK we are all enjoying an extra long weekend due to the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.  It's my half term break as well next week, so I have a whole week off, which is much needed and appreciated!

I had a lovely week last week in school celebrating the Jubilee with the children.  We had a mock coronation, a street party, a red white and blue parade, a proper English tea party with scones and clotted cream and spent some time learning old-fashioned songs like There'll Always be an England.  I'm not the most patriotic person going (I have a quieter, British version of patriotism) but all the celebrations did make me feel proud.  Seeing how much the children got into it was just lovely.

I view the Jubilee celebrations as time for a bit of quiet reflection.  Although the UK isn't perfect, I am glad that this is the country I was born in and have been brought up in.  Whilst I am not an ardent monarchist, I appreciate the difficult job the Queen does and think that on balance the Royal Family is a positive force for the country.

I shall be celebrating tomorrow with my family by having a barbeque and spending some extra time together.  The Queen has always been concerned with family and stability, so I think this will be a fitting tribute :)

What's your opinion on the Jubilee and the British Royal Family?

Saturday 2 June 2012

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

The Snow Child is the story of Jack and Mabel, a childless couple who escape to Alaska in the 1920s.  Sick of being around constant reminders of their inability to have children of their own, they move to Alaska in the hope of starting a new life.  But Alaska is difficult and Mabel soon starts to slide into hopelessness.  During the first snow of winter, they make a snow girl, only to find that she has vanished by morning.  They start to see glimpses of the girl running through the woods, who hunts animals to eat and sleeps outside in all weathers.  They come to love her as the child they never had, but is Faina all that she appears to be?

The beauty of this book was all in the magical setting.  I enjoyed the story and characters, but what I will remember is Ivey's wonderful descriptions of the Alaskan winter; blizzards that shake the houses, crystallised snow flakes and crunchy walks across freshly fallen snow.  I love to be transported to a different place by a story and The Snow Child definitely met this criteria.  It captures the magic of winter perfectly.

I wasn't surprised to learn that The Snow Child was based on an old Russian fairytale, Snegurochka (the snow maiden) and felt that it was strongest when including these fairy tale elements.  The sections describing Faina as a young child in the few winters after Mabel and Jack made the snow girl, were by far and away my favourites.  I liked the suggestions that Faina might dissolve in the heat, that she had befriended a wild fox, that she had unnatural affinity with the woods.  I so wanted this to be a proper, old-fashioned fairytale.

And whilst Ivey does keep parts of Faina's character deliberately obtuse so you can decide for yourself what she was, I felt as though the book really lost steam once Faina started to grow up and interact with more of the people living near Mabel and Jack.  The magic started to wear off and the book became about human relationships and human issues.  Although the ending of the book was interesting, the magic had long since worn off for me.  I think The Snow Child would have worked much better as a novella involving only the first half or so of the book.  I know lots of people have adored this book but it just didn't quite work for me.

Source: Library
First Published: February 2012
Score: 3.5 out of 5

Read Alongside:
1. The Winter Palace by Eva Stachnaik - This is a very different story, being a historical fiction novel of Catherine the Great of Russia, but like The Snow Child it contains wonderful descriptions of a winter setting - perfect for armchair travelling.
2. Arabian Nights by Richard Burton - I've added this purely because The Snow Child was in part a fairy tale and Arabian Nights are my favourite tales.