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Merry Christmas and thank you!

Merry Christmas to all of our readers!

I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported Literature for Lads since we launched in November.  The response I have had from authors, publishers, librarians and readers has been amazing.  It has completely surpassed my expectations. Special thanks go Nicola Morgan, our 1st guest blogger and Joe Craig our first author interview. I was delighted that both of them were willing to take a chance on my new blog.

I hope the blog will continue to grow in 2012 (I'm already excited about what we have coming in January!) and that I can continue to write reviews which are worth reading!

Here's to a cracking 2012!

And finally here is my favourite Christmas song ever!

Inside my Head

Inside my Head; Bloomsbury; 2010

Book summary (taken from Amazon UK): This cleverly constructed narrative consists of three points of view: of Gary, constantly victimised by the school bully in a nasty, name-calling and vindictive way; the bully's friend, David and a new girl to the school, Zoe. All viewpoints are revealing. Gary reveals the painful and often unsuccessful attempts by a young man to control his anger under great provocation - and his inability to communicate. David is someone who is uncomfortable with the bullying but doesn't dare to do anything about it - until the end. Zoe is a young woman who can see Gary through different eyes and is independent, freethinking and brave.

Literature for Lads review:
This is Jim Carrington's debut novel and it's fair to say it's pretty hard hitting.  The central theme of the novel is bullying and Carrington has taken this difficult subject and dealt with it in a sensitive manner.  He does this whilst at the same time keeping the reader engaged with a great story.

As indicated in the book summary the story is told from three different points of view; Gary, the victim, David, best friend of high school bully Knaggs and Zoe the new girl who has just moved from London to the Norfolk countryside.  As the story progress it becomes clear that these three characters story lines are going to collide.  

Carrington has used the experience he has of being a teacher to good effect with this novel.  His descriptions of classroom situations are spot on and the scenes which take place in the playground are depicted expertly.  It's also pleasing to see Carrington base the novel in the area he grew up in, Norfolk, as opposed to the more familiar inner city setting often seen in books dealing with this subject.  It reminds us all that bullying can be a problem in any setting or situation.

The three main characters in the book are all interesting in their own way.  Gary, the victim of bullying, is a young adult struggling with anger management and unable to communicate with those close to him. Subject to mass provocation at school he resorts to physical violence to try and deal with his troubles. David, uncomfortable with what his best friend subjects Gary to, is made to think what friendship really is.  Zoe uprooted from the hustle and bustle of London and dumped in rural Norfolk not only has to come to terms with this, but after befriending Gary is plunged into helping him deal with his troubles.

Some may find it surprising that the bully, Knaggs, is not given his own narrative in the book.  However it's refreshing to have kept the bully out of the limelight. The teasing, name calling and psychological effects the bullying has on Gary is still evident as it's told through the eyes of the three other characters.

The language used in the book is sometimes that of the playground, but this should not distract the reader from what is a clever, well written book.  I'd go as far to suggest that the book should be on the shelf of every school library.  It takes the ever present problem of bullying and tackles it head on.  Carrington deals with the issue in a way that young adults will relate and respond to and this book deserves to be read.

Marks out of 10: 7

(Thanks to Emma Bradshaw at Bloomsbury Books for supplying the copy of the book)

For more information on Jim Carrington click here

Nicola Morgan Guest Blog - Mondays are Red

Today I'm delighted to welcome Nicola Morgan onto our blog. Nicola is an award winning author for teenagers and other young readers.  Previous novels include Wasted (shortlisted for the Scottish Childrens Book of the year 2011), Fleshmarket and Deathwatch.  Last week Nicola relaunched her debut novel Mondays are Red, first published in 2002, as an e-book.

Nicola is producing the ebook herself, with a new cover and extra material, including creative writing by school pupils inspired by the book. For details about how to buy, approximately £2.23 on Amazon and similar (soon) on other outlets click here.

NOTE: you do NOT need a Kindle to buy a Kindle book. Simply download the free Kindle software for your laptop, iPad, iPhone, smartphone, android, tablet etc.

In advance of the publication of Mondays are Red I caught up with Nicola and asked her a few questions on her decision to republish Mondays are Red in an e-book format, and also asked her how she felt about the novel, nearly ten years after it was first published.

About the book

When Luke wakes from a coma, his world has altered. Synaesthesia confuses his senses and a sinister creature called Dreeg inhabits his mind. Dreeg offers him limitless power – even the power to fly – and the temptations are huge, but the price is high. Who will pay? His mysteriously perfect girlfriend, with hair as long as the sound of honey? His detested sister, Laura, with the wasps in her hair? When Laura goes missing, Luke realizes the terrible truth about himself and his power. His decision is a matter of life and death, and he will have to run faster than fire.

To read the Literature for Lads review of the book click here

Thanks for inviting me onto your excellent blog. You asked me a few questions and I’m delighted to answer them.

Why am I publishing the ebook of Mondays are Red?

Because I can! My agent and I got the rights back from its original publisher and we knew we could sell it again because I still get loads of emails from readers who’ve heard of it but can’t find it in shops now.  It was a book that people talked about a lot when it came out, because it’s unusual – ok, well, weird – and I’m hoping a whole new set of readers will enjoy its wildness and oddness.
The whole ebook scene is really exciting and there are lots of writers like me who are publishing ourselves. We get to keep control – something I always like! We can make mistakes but at least it will be our own mistakes and we can only blame ourselves. I like that.
How is the ebook different?

Well, a lovely new cover is the most obvious thing. But I’ve done two other things: I’ve added several extra pieces at the end – including amazing work by some boys in Wiltshire who had been studying Mondays are Red – and I’ve made very slight changes to the text.

Why did I change the text? I explain in one of the end-pieces but basically it’s because I’m never happy with what I’ve written. Actually, in some ways I wanted to change more but I felt that would be wrong. Every time I look at something I’ve written, I’ll change it. I am never satisfied with my writing.

What do I feel about Mondays are Red after nearly ten years?

I remember the freedom I felt when I wrote it – I had no deadline, didn’t even know if it would get published. I wrote it from the heart, really threw all my imagination and love of language into it. It’s quite wild and exaggerated and uncontrolled and I kind of like that about it. It’s individual and quirky and free. Which, in my opinion, is no bad thing. And because it was the novel that got me published after SO many years of trying (21), it is special to me.
What I mostly feel is that I’m really excited about it being available again and about the idea of doing school events about it. Mondays are Red events are fun and interesting. For years, I couldn’t really talk about it in schools because I was supposed to be talking about the books my publishers wanted me to sell. Now, I’m the publisher of my own book and that feels great!

Mondays are Red is about power and I suppose being able to control its destiny and my own gives me a feeling of power, too.

Thank you again for letting me appear on your blog! I wish you all masses of enjoyment with stories – take risks in your reading, be different and let your imagination fly.

Thanks to Nicola for the excellent answers to our questions.  Mondays are Red is like nothing I've ever read before and I really do recommend readers go out and experience it for themselves! If you would like to find out more about Nicola please visit her website Nicola Morgan