Author Archives: kirstyes

boom! by Mark Haddon – Book Review

Synopsis

It was a stupid, insane, suicidal idea. Which makes it quite hard to explain why I decided to help. I guess it boils down to this. Charlie was my best friend. I missed him. And I couldn’t think of anything better to do. Really stupid reasons which were never going to impress the police, the headmistress or my parents.

Looking back, I reckon this was the moment when my whole life started to go pear shaped.

Author

Mark Haddon is the author of bestselling novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. boom! was originally published as Gridzbi Spudvetch! in 1992 with this rewritten version published in 2009.

What I Thought

boom! Is a fun, pacy middle grade where Jimbo (James) and his friend Charlie discover something unusual when they bug the teacher’s staff room at school. With echoes of the Demon Headmaster it is up to them to uncover the nefarious plot. Then Charlie goes missing. Older sister Becky turns out to care more than she lets on, and the two of them head off on her boyfriend’s motorbike to discover what goes boom!

Very much of its original age there is some gender stereotyping that is perhaps a little unhelpful at times but Jimbo is a likeable little imp and you want him to triumph.

Jimbo and Charlie have a fun friendship. The adults are most definitely comic relief. Charlie’s mum is a little extreme!

Full of adventure and humour with the kids most definitely in charge.

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The Cantankerous Molly Darling by Alvy Carragher – Blog Tour Book Review

Synopsis

Molly Darling wants life to be as simple as wellies and porridge – this is rural Ireland after all. Instead, Mum’s hiding in the attic; Dad’s run away, leaving only a PowerPoint to explain; her sister has a ham sandwich for a fiancé; there’s a boy and THE silence; her BFF will stop at nothing to go viral; and the chickens are missing. It’s enough to make a girl cantankerous. But she’ll fix it all. Easy, right?

Author

Alvy Carragher grew up in rural Ireland. She has an MA in Writing, as well as a first collection of poems published by Salmon Poetry. A former resident of both Louisiana and South Korea, she is currently holed up in Vancouver where she is tinkering away at a second novel and learning to speak Canadian.

Find her on twitter at @alvycarragher

What I Thought

This is such a fun book, from the very first line you know you are going to be in for something different.

The Molly Darling of the title is an Irish teen who has every right to be cantankerous. She lives on a run down farm, her parents are separated, her mum is throwing herself into her art and her new boyfriend, and neglecting Molly and her sister Polly.

To top it off Molly’s pet chickens have “just disappeared”. The chickens were the only bit of normality in her life, giving her companionship and routine. And they form much more of the plot than you might be expecting. Like Molly, and everyone on social media, you will fall in love with Lady Macbeth the rooster that is at heart a chicken. Will they get their peaceful ever after?

Mum’s new boyfriend happens to be the father of one of the hot boys in school and complicated relationships with boys, friends, enemies and veganism abound. Polly’s imminent wedding brings their absent father back into the mix too!

The rural setting of the farm gives a unique backdrop to daring chicken rescues, activist meetings in a chicken shed and a family farm house with a teetering Great Wall of Books on the stairs. With the addition of viral and doctored social media videos you just know the peace and tranquility is going to be toppled.

Alvy Carragher writes with wit, warmth and humour and this book is just simply a joy to read.

Thanks to Laura and Chicken House Books for my #gifted copy for the purposes of an honest review.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour stops.

Somewhere Close to Happy by Lia Louis – Blog Tour Book Review

Book cover with letter

Synopsis

Lizzie James is happy.

She has a steady office job (with a steady stream of snacks), has had the same best friend since school, and she sees her family ever Thursday night for take-away and trashy TV, Lizzie likes her uncomplicated life.

Then a letter arrives one day from her first love, Roman. A letter dated the day he disappeared, 12 years before. As Lizzie uncovers the secrets of the letter, she discovers what really happened the year her life fell apart – and all avenues lead back to Roman.

Lizzie James thought she was happy, or somewhere close to happy, at least. Now she’s not so sure.

About the Author

Lia Louis is a writer from Hertfordshire where she lives with her partner and three young children. In 2015, she won ELLE magazine’s annual talent competition with her contemporary love letter, #RelationshipGoals. Lia’s fascination with letters doesn’t stop with her writing: she also has a varied collection of old letters which are a source of inspiration to her. Somewhere Close to Happy is her first novel. Lia can be found tweeting at @LisforLia.

What I Thought

This debut novel hit the sweet spot for me with a tender YA style first love and a gradual unpicking of a mystery later in life.

Lizzie thinks she’s moved on and moved past what happened when Roman disappeared but the delivery of his twelve year old letter opens those wounds and there’s only one way to heal them. She needs the truth.

Her best friend Priscilla has been with her since school, through her time at The Grove (the mental health unit where she met Roman), the year he left and now she’s the Sherlock to her Watson. I loved the female friendships in this book, most notably between Lizzie and Priscilla but also with Katie, her sister-in-law. There was one scene where Katie’s support had me fist pumping.

Of course Somewhere Close to Happy also represents the fauxships too, in all their agonising false niceties.

The novel flicks forward and back in time and this gradual unfurling of the story of first love and first loss is deftly handled, it had me so invested. I wanted to hug young Lizzie and young Roman in particular.

With hugely honest and accurate mental health portrayal, that comes from the author’s authentic experience. The experience of anxiety and panic pulses from the page. Also the hurt of one’s experience not being validated is raw and the, “she’s being a teenager”, “she’s just being awkward”, comments show how much more awareness is needed. The family relationships in this story are complex, some good (Hubble – sweet Hubble), some complex (Mum and Dad) and some downright 🤬 (Auntie who Shall be named – see what I did there!).

This story just feels so real, so bittersweet and the writing just had me hooked. I needed to know what happened. Lizzie goes on a journey, and the outcome is one of self understanding and growth. The moments when she quietly and calmly is able to state what she needs are powerful.

As a personal note there is something that happens with Priscilla (no spoilers) that I hope becomes Louis’ second novel, because I know this author has the sensitivity to write that empathetically. I’d also love to spend more time with these characters.

Trigger warning for mental health, suicide, drug addiction and abortion.

Somewhere Close to Happy is out on Thursday.

Thank you to Alex and Orion for the review copy #gifted for the purposes of an honest review. I loved it.

This review is part of a blog tour, do check out what everyone else thought on the other stops.

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