A review: The Casual Vacancy

I decided to ask Santa for J.K. Rowling’s latest novel ‘The Casual Vacancy’ but it wasn’t in any of the gifts under the tree, so I bought it for myself.
I just finished reading it last night while the family watched The Lion King.

First of all I feel that it’s important to state that this is not a kids book! (Apparently there were some unhappy parents out there who had failed to pay attention to this fact. See reviews on Amazon.)
‘The Casual Vacancy’ is J.K’s first novel for adults – it says so on the inside flap of the jacket – and it contains bad language and some adult themes (sex and drugs, but no rock and roll.)
Set in the quiet little English country town of Pagford, this novel follows the lives of some of Pagford’s citizens as they interact with each other following the death of Barry Fairbrother – banker and member of the parish council.
The void left by Mr. Fairbrother’s death is felt throughout the community, in different ways and for different reasons, and soon the people of Pagford find themselves set against each other.
His position on the council is up for grabs, and his side of an old argument is now missing it’s best fighter.
Lines are drawn, alliances made and broken, secrets exposed.

The Casual Vacancy is an intriguing tale of life in a small town, where everyone knows each other and if you’ve ever lived in a small town you will definitely understand it.

I enjoyed reading this novel, the characters are real, sometimes disarmingly so. The twists and turns of the story keep things moving along, and the pages turning – I would recommend this book to a friend with the phrase ‘it’s quite good’ but would I have picked it up in the first place had it not been written by J.K.?
No, I don’t think I would.

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Elf on the Shelf

I first heard about Elf on the Shelf last year via Pinterest.
If you are a pinner or have a loved one who is a pinner, you probably know that there’s crazy stuff and crazy people out there!
So my introduction to this particular brand new Christmas tradition was somewhat tainted by funny little stories like, oh the elf was naughty and left a huge mess all over the kitchen when he baked cookies last night.
Surely (I thought) people have enough to do in the run up to December 25th without inventing stuff for a plastic elf to do each night, especially if that task adds extra work to the next day!
Oh naughty elf, you left little footprints across the bathroom sink! I know I can’t touch you, so we’ll all wash our hands in the kitchen and I’ll clean the bathroom after you leave tonight!

I didn’t think I’d touch this idea with a barge pole.

But then the teacher of my youngest discovered that her elf has decided to visit the first graders in class for a week – and the kids were ECSTATIC!
They hurry around the room each morning as they put their jackets and backpacks away, eager to know where the elf, whose name is Austin, has positioned himself for maximum spying opportunities.

And I found myself in the bookstore this morning, contemplating a purchase.

My seventh grader has offered to be my sidekick. My first grader would be beyond excited to find a visiting elf in her very own house. My boy probably wouldn’t care, but he’s (always) another story (and I mean that in a good way, I think.)

It comes with a book we’d have to sit and read together – and I am ALL promoting reading. Every chance.

The only reason I did not come home with a creepy looking little guy dressed in red felt, was that I’m Scottish… and the price tag made pain shoot right through my DNA.
$30? I could buy three books with that!

Cornelia Funke books

One day while browsing in the bookstore, I picked up a copy of Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke and thought ohhh dragons!
A few years ago I fell head over heels in love with another Cornelia Funke book – Inkheart.
Inkheart is Fabulous with a capital Fab.
I must reread it soon and write a review, I also read the other two titles in the trilogy (why is everything a trilogy??!) but loved the first book more than the others.

Anyway, I picked up (and bought) Dragon Rider, and sat it on the pile of books on my bedside table – finally grabbed it for reading this week.
I try REALLY hard not to judge a book by it’s siblings – but I fear I judged Dragon Rider before I had even opened the cover – and the story so far has disappointed.
There’s a talking rat who is incredibly fussy and some scenes where I lose track of who is talking, what they are saying, and why any of it matters.

I hate giving up on a book though, so I will persevere – and when I am done I will write a proper review, and then go find my copy of Inkheart.

In other news, the children have spent all of my money at their school book fair. Good reason to be broke.