Susan Elkin

Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. Her book Unlocking the Reader in Every Child is published by Ransom. She is Education and Training Editor at The Stage.

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A long time ago, in a land far away...

In the first of our three Christmas books specials, Susan Elkin looks at novels for teenagers, while on the following pages our reviewers pick the very best of the year's literary fiction, humour, cinema, politics and audiobooks

Children's Books: Abominable humans (especially parents)

Susan Elkin meets eco-minded yetis and time-warping dogs in her selection of books for the 8-12s

Books: A cooler place in the sun

This summer's harvest of Mediterranean memoirs by bronzed expats is heavier than ever. But plain tales of problems overcome outshine the cosy fantasies. Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes Bantam, pounds 15, 364pp; On the Spine of Italy by Harry Clifton Macmillan, pounds 9.99, 199ppEncore Provence by Peter Mayle Hamish Hamilton, pounds 16.95, 195ppDriving over Lemons by Chris Stewart Sort of Books, pounds 6.99, 250pp

Books: Independent Choice Autumn Blockbusters

Pick of the Week:

Books: Independent choice: Fictional family life

Fictional family life

Independent choice

Tudor tales

Books: Independent choice: First novels

Like Ted Hughes's hawk, the eponymous hero of Mark Fyfe's Asher (Marion Boyars, pounds 11.95) has no sophistry in his body and his manners are tearing off heads. Asher is a ruthlessly intelligent, sex and drugs-driven 18-year-old. He has no humanity - or thinks he hasn't. He coldly manipulates everyone he knows. "The disposability of life" is his dismissive phrase. His charm, skilfully simulated as a means to various ends, is all the more chilling because we are privy to its falsity. The calculated seduction of Jenny is as foul as anything in Les Liaisons Dangerouses; the killing fantasies are very nasty.
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