Title: Charlie and Me – 421 Miles from Home

Author: Mark Lowery

Pages: 320 Pages

Publisher: Piccadilly Press

The Blurb

Thirteen-year-old Martin and his younger brother Charlie are on a very special journey. They’re going to be travelling 421 miles all the way from Preston to the very tip of Cornwall. By train, bus and taxi, they are determined to get there in the end; and they’re hoping to catch a glimpse of the dolphin that regularly visits the harbour there. But is that the only reason they are going?

It’s a journey that’s full of challenges and surprises. Martin adores his brother Charlie but he’s not like ordinary kids. He’s one in a million. He was born far too early, and ought to have died. And cheeky, irrepressible, utterly unique Charlie is always keeping Martin on his toes – especially on this crazy trip they are now on. Martin is doing his best to be a good big brother, but it’s hard when there’s something so huge coming once they get to Cornwall …

An unforgettable novel that is by turns funny and heartbreaking.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Oh my days. What a beautifully emotional story.

I bought seven copies of Charlie and Me: 421 Miles from Home. You may think “Seven? That’s a bit excessive.” Let me explain. I run a book club for my students and this book is on the Carnegie Long List for 2019 and I am trying to get through as many of them as possible before the short list is announced.

I gave it to my students having only read two chapters but I was enchanted already. This story of brotherly love was so funny and sweet and realistic that I knew that I was going to love it. My students did too. All of them came to me telling me that they loved it, that they laughed and that they cried. Charlie and Me: 421 Miles from Home really pulls at your heartstrings.

It is both a road-trip novel and a coming of age story which are two of my favourite kinds of tales. I really hope that Charlie and Me: 421 Miles from Home makes the Short List. It definitely deserves a place.

Charlie and Me: 421 Miles From Home by Mark Lowery is available now.

For more information regarding Mark Lowery (@HelloMarkLowery) please visit www.marklowery.co.uk.

For more information regarding Picadilly Press (@PiccadillyPress) please visit www.picadillypressblog.wordpress.com.

How to Build a GirlTitle: How to Build a Girl

Author: Caitlin Moran

Pages: 354 Pages

Publisher: Ebury Press

The Blurb

My name’s Johanna Morrigan. I’m fourteen, and I’ve just decided to kill myself.

I don’t really want to die, of course! I just need to kill Johanna, and build a new girl. Dolly Wilde will be everything I want to be, and more! But as with all the best coming-of-age stories, it doesn’t exactly go to plan…

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

My favourite genre of book or movie or, heck, even song, is one with a coming of age story at its heart. I love watching a character grow and develop and learn and just become who they are meant to be in this little fictional world. It makes my heart swell bigger than the Grinch’s. And this is exactly what I got from Caitlin Moran’s How to Build a Girl.

Now I know I am a little late to the game on this one but to be fair I have a million books and there is, as of yet, not been a day added to the week allocated for just reading so you will have to forgive me. However, as I pressed pre-order on the sequel to How to Build A Girl (How to Be Famous – out in June) I decided to bump it to the top of the TBR pile and oh my wow I have fallen in love.

Besides being, as I have said, a coming of age story, How to Build a Girl is also a socio-economic study of class. In particular, working class status and what it means to be poor. Moran has made no secret about her unconventional upbringing and you can see how much of her heart and soul is infused in this story and how it actually takes someone who knows about class issues from a realistic vantage to be able to discuss them eruditely.

Moran uses the music of the times to forward the story along and completely immerses you in her world and I, for one, didn’t want to leave. Johanna Morrigan – our protagonist – really is a fictional heroine. One I wish I had to look up to when I was younger. And even though Caitlin Moran could write about the wing span of midgey flies and I would read it because I love her writing style I can honestly say that How to Build a Girl has taken the number one spot as my book of the year so far.

How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran is available now.

For more information regarding Caitlin Moran (@caitlinmoran) please visit www.caitlinmoran.co.uk.

For more information regarding Ebury Publishing (@EburyPublishing) please visit www.penguinrandomhouse.co.uk/publishers/ebury.

5 Stars

Title: Release

Author: Patrick Ness

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: Walker Books

The Blurb

A startling and tender novel about how to let yourself love and set yourself free by Patrick Ness, the twice Carnegie Medal-winning author of A Monster Calls. Today will change Adam Thorn’s life. Between his religious family, unpleasant boss and his ex-boyfriend, the bindings of his world are coming undone. And way across town, a ghost has risen from the lake. Is there time for Adam to find his release?

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

For years I have avoided books written by Patrick Ness. You may be wondering why. He is a celebrated author after all; prize-winning even. However, about 8 years ago I read his book The Knife of Never Letting Go and I hated it. I just didn’t get it. So since then I have avoided his books.

I work in a school and spend the majority of my time trying to raise literacy levels; I work in the school library and spend the rest of my time in school discussing books with students and encouraging them to read. Now, with the Carnegie short list announced I decided it was time I gave Patrick Ness another chance. I picked up the book Release as my first read and man I have to tell you my humble pie tastes fantastic.

Release is amazing.

It is not what I expected at all. Ness deals with themes of identity, first love, sexuality, and growing up. His characters are alive on every page. I was transported to this Podunk religious town and I felt the oppressiveness that Adam felt.

Release really is a great story that I urge you to read.

Release by Patrick Ness is available now.

For more information regarding Patrick Ness (@Patrick_Ness) please visit www.patrickness.com.

For more information regarding Walker Books (@WalkerBooksUK) please visit www.walkerbooks.co.uk.

4 Stars

Title: The Disenchantments

Author: Nina LaCour

Pages: 307 Pages

Publisher: Speak

The Blurb

Colby and Bev have a long-standing pact: graduate, hit the road with Bev’s band, and then spend the year wandering around Europe. But moments after the tour kicks off, Bev makes a shocking announcement: she’s abandoning their plans – and Colby – to start college in the fall.
But the show must go on and The Disenchantments weave through the Pacific Northwest, playing in small towns and dingy venues, while roadie- Colby struggles to deal with Bev’s already-growing distance and the most important question of all: what’s next?

Morris Award-finalist Nina LaCour draws together the beauty and influences of music and art to brilliantly capture a group of friends on the brink of the rest of their lives.

The Review

I know I keep banging on about this and I am probably getting boring by YA fiction is nailing it. It just is.

The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour is a great example of young adult fiction just getting it right. It is a coming-of-age story of Colby and Bev. Two friends who have promised each other that neither will go to college and that they will just head off and have adventures. Sometimes plans go a bit catawampus and life throws you a curve ball. This is exactly what happens and is the basis of this story.

What LaCour manages to do so skilfully is encapsulate the feelings of vulnerability in the face of the unknown whist also displacing the characters from their comfort zones. At the same time she has her characters dealing with emotions that we have all dealt with: fear, love and lust just to name a few.

I was not disappointed by The Disenchantments. Cheesy as it is to say, I was, in fact, thoroughly enchanted.

The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour is available now.

For more information regarding Nina LaCour (@nina_lacour) please visit www.ninalacour.com.

35 Stars