Friday, 30 May 2014

Liar & Spy

Liar & Spy
Rebecca Stead
London, Andersen, 2013, 180p

Last term, my colleague, Hannah from Oxford Youth Works, and I embarked on establishing a Girl's Book Club for Year 7. Now, we are making some of the boys happy by making a club exclusively for them, using Rebecca Stead's Liar & Spy as our book for discussion.

Georges is a funny, clever narrator. There is a lot going on in Georges' life when he moves into a new apartment and meets Safer, a skilled spy. Safer invites Georges to join his spy club, the main mission of which is to find out what is going on in the apartment of the mysterious Mr X. As time goes on, Safer becomes more demanding, and Georges starts to question if the friendship and the spy club are worth sacrificing his morals for.

Yes, the names of these characters are rather strange, but seeing as the whole story is delightfully uplifting, it doesn't really matter. And in some ways, the friendship between the boys is strengthened by their mutually unusual names.

Although the main plot focuses upon the spy club, Georges and Safer both have issues they are struggling with and unwilling to share. The club helps distract them from their hopes and fears, but also helps them process some of the challenges they are facing.

Georges is an adorable protagonist - I love Rebecca Stead's style and the voice she has created for our narrator. Not only is does the plot swiftly progress, but you learn little facts along the way as Georges describes his lessons at school and learns from Safer in spy club.

I cannot wait to see what my year 7 boys make of this novel!

To see the rest of my Carnegie reviews, click here.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Pigeon Pie

Pigeon Pie
Nancy Mitford
London, Capuchin, 2012, 159p

Last year, my mother read an extended biography of the Mitford sisters, and regularly updated me on the information she has learned about the family of socialites. I was intrigued, so when I stumbled upon a novel by one of that multitude, I thought it might be time I learned more.

Sophia Garfield is a sophisticated young woman of the upper class at the outbreak of the Second World War. She lives with her husband, with whom she has a marvelous arrangement that involves Sophia having a lover and he entertaining a woman who comes across as a religious lunatic. When she accidentally stumbles upon a secret within her house, Sophia is enlisted as a spy, and finds herself torn between the desire to show off to her friends and an uncertainty about who she can trust.

I knew I'd love Pigeon Pie from the opening line - it is witty, intelligent, and sharp. Although Nancy lived the high life, she clearly found it very entertaining and uses the upper classes as great fuel from which to be inspired. In part, you can see her own experiences in the novel, as she laughs at the ridiculousness of those Brits who supported the Nazi. She mocks the selfishness and naivety of those who sit in the Ritz and drink tea whilst discussing politics, when they seem to be so oblivious of what is really taking place in Germany. 

The whole novel feels a little like a farce, with Sophia's strange domestic set up, the way she trips and falls into a career in espionage, and the coming and going of her friends in parliament. And yet, beneath the comedy is a serious commentary on national socialism and the outbreak of war in 1939. 

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Blood Family

Blood Family
Anne Fine
London, Doubleday, 2013, 291p

I haven't read Anne Fine for about ten years, and I am incredibly impressed she is still writing with strength and passion.

Eddie is found as a young boy in his dilapidated council flat where he is beaten by his mother's partner. Social services pick him up, and he is taken into care with Linda and Alan, an elderly couple who are great with emergency care. Over time, Eddie becomes increasingly confident and reveals himself to be a studious and caring young man. When he is finally adopted, everything seems to be okay, until his teen years bring about the realisation that the past can never be truly buried. 

Blood Family is a dark and tragic novel, but I felt it dragged on a bit too much. The story was told from multiple perspectives - by Eddie, by his social worker, by his foster parents and his adoptive parents, and by his teachers. But the whole thing felt like it took rather a long time to reveal the full extent of the drama. 

Eddie is a sweet and kind boy, but he was a little one dimensional, conforming to certain stereotypes that we know about children in care - he is isolated and struggles to socialise; he is eager to work hard and desires love; he goes off the rails in his teens. When the novel starts, he is very young, so although I think the subject is targeted at mature teen readers, I imagine some may be put off by Eddie's youth. 

And, as with most novels about social issues, everyone comes up smelling of roses in the end. 

Perhaps if this novel had been a little shorter, or if Eddie's character felt more realistic, I might have enjoyed it more, as the concept as a whole was very intriguing. 

To see the rest of my Carnegie reviews, click here.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

All the Truth That's In Me

All the Truth That's In Me
Julie Berry
Dorking, Templar, 2013, 266p

When Judith returns home, her tongue cut out and the last two years a mystery to all around her, she is outcast by her society and her family, subject to looks of horror and pity. As the town talks, there is only one person she wishes to listen to her - Lucas, the boy she has always loved.

Set in the early American settlements, All the Truth That's In Me is a haunting, dark novel about abduction and young sexuality. Judith is victimised by those in her town, who assume her kidnapping was of a sexual nature; and she is continuously haunted by the feeling that men only want her as a silent object. As the story unfolds, it becomes apparent that there is more mystery to Judith's story than the townsfolk have presumed.

The novel is told in first person by Judith, who often narrates as if she is speaking directly to Lucas, pleading for his sympathy and understanding. The chapters are very short - some only a sentence long - meaning reading is easy and swift.

I found myself quite caught up in the romance - Judith's longing is heartbreakingly beautiful, as she sits on the sidelines of Lucas' life. And she is a surprisingly strong protagonist, despite her many obstacles. She is brave and strong, fighting for justice and protecting the man she loves. If anything, Lucas seems weak in comparison.

I am finding this year's Carnegie list to be surprisingly dark, especially compared to the variety of the 2013 list - many of the books would not be typically suitable for teenage readers - yet I am enjoying the journey of shadowing.

To read more of my reviews of the 2014 Carnegie shortlist, click here.

Monday, 26 May 2014

The Last Wild

The Last Wild
Piers Torbay
London, Quercus, 2013, 326p

Usually, I don't really like books with talking animals - they are very hard to take seriously, especially when they are highlighting an environmental issue such as this novel. But somehow, Piers Torbay has created an original and fascinating dystopia with a true spirit of adventure.

The world of The Last Wild is very different from that which we live in. There are no animals left alive - all have been killed by a disease known as the red-eye. The people are confined to the cities, protected and fed by Factorum, a huge omniscient company that appears to be a little suspect.

Kester doesn't talk. Separated from his father, he is locked up in Spectre Hall where they send kids who are a burden on or embarrassment to society. In his room, he pretends to talk to the cockroaches, which apparently were not affected by the red-eye. Then he discovers he can communicate with animals, of which there are in fact some left alive, and a hoard of pigeons and varmints are plotting to help him escape. They take him north and show him more animals, living in solitude away from the humans, but everyday at risk from infection. They have brought him there because they have a shared dream: they believe Kester is the one who will cure them.

With a stag, a wolf-cub, and a cockroach, Kester sets off to Premuim, the city where he grew up and where he hopes his father still lives. He thinks his father, a vet, might be able to cure the red-eye. Kester is a reluctant hero, never fully believing that he will be the one to save the animals; but he is eager to be reunited with his father so agrees to help.

The Last Wild carries a strong environmental message about the impact of science and the economy on wildlife. I feel guilty about not being a vegetarian after reading about these colourful, loveable animals.

The creatures in this book a beautifully personified, making me wish I knew an adorably eager wolf-cub and a dopey pigeon. In contrast, humans don't come across well, from murderous Facto bullies to misleadingly friendly farmers. Every page of this book presents a new danger to the team, both man-made and natural. And you come away from this read feeling increasingly aware and strangely horrified about the evil we inflict on the animal world.

But the adventure doesn't end here - Kester and his friends still have a long way to go.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

The Wall

The Wall
William Sutcliffe
London, Bloomsbury, 2014, 286p

I have been very slow about making my way through the Carnegie shortlist this year, but have stepped up my game this half term with The Wall.

Joshua has lived alongside the wall for many years, with a vague awareness of what might be on the other side. One day, he discovers a tunnel that leads to the other side, a forbidden territory for people from his side of the wall. There, he finds terror, violence, and kindness, and his newfound knowledge changes his life forever.

The Wall is a dark, dangerous novel about segregation. Sutcliffe has created a ficitonal world losely based on the Israeli settlements on the West Bank, and he explores the issue of racial prejudice that is ingrained in this and so many other areas.

The journey of discovery that Joshua embarks upon is full of danger and pulls his already fragile family unit apart. Joshua's father passed away in a military incident relating to the wall, and his stepfather is a brute, angry force. Joshua tries to bridge the gap through helping those who showed him kindness, but is simply punished and rebuked by his family. Those on his side of the wall are protected from the dangers and repression, but what he sees when he discovers the tunnel can never be unseen.
To see the rest of my Carnegie reviews, click here.

Friday, 23 May 2014


Patience Agbabi
Edinburgh, Payback, 2000, 78p

No poet packs such a punch as Patience Agbabi. From the opening line of this collection, she calls her reader to battle, seeps rhythm through their bones, and empowers one to be strong. 

Transformatrix contains a series of poems designed for performance - reading them in your head is not good enough. They are written to be shouted and sung, with unusual rhythm and unconventional rhyme that only reveals itself through the spoken word. 

The collection explores Agbabi's observations about contemporary society - about race, poverty, femininity and sexuality. Some are funny and some are angry, but all are passionate.

The first poem is one of my favourites - 'Prologue'. As with a novel, the first line of a poetry anthology should grip you and make you want to read more, and with 'Prologue', Agbabi has written a poem full of pizzaz and joy. To read it aloud, you can indulge in the magic of language as the words roll off your tongue, each carefully crafted and executed. You can feel the influence of British music and culture, 

The book is broken down into sections; the focus of many being women - powerful women, subordinated women, women in love. Each little poem tells it's own story, and when collected together in sections, each part of the book tells a wider story. As a whole, Transformatrix is uplifting, exciting and invigorating. 

Thursday, 22 May 2014

The Eye of Neptune

Monster Odyssey: The Eye of Neptune
Jon Mayhew
London, Bloomsbury, 2013, 250p

Prince Dakker is thrilled to discover that his mentor and guardian, Count Oginski, has been secretly working on an underwater vehicle, the first ever sybmarine. When their home is attacked, Dakkar escapes on the submersible, pent on finding who is responsible and on getting Ogsinki back. Along the way, he faces dangerous foes, both human and sea-creatures, but worst of all is Cryptos, an sinister enemy who wants the submarine for himself.

During the first half of the book, Dakkar is on his own, chasing after the ship he suspects might have kidnapped his guardian. Despite having the whole ocean to play with, I found this section rather dull and lacking in creative originality. Then, Dakkar is joined by the feisty Georgia. whose uncle has been working with Oginski and has also gone missing. The young duo team up to discover the truth, and finally some dialogue is created, which adds some excitement to the book. But I still felt Georgia lacked personality, and was a bit of a prototype of the female sidekick rather than anything particularly new and exciting.

I mostly skim read this book - I just coundn't engage with it and I can't work out if I genuinely didn't like it because of the story or if I went into reading it with a negative attitude due to the shiny cover. Unfortunately, The Eye of Neptune was not the gripping adventure I had hoped it might be.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Instructions for a Heatwave

Instructions for a Heatwave
Maggie O'Farrell
London, Headline, 2013, 324p

On this gloriously warm weekend, I found myself reading a novel about the infamous heatwave of 1976. Sat in the sun, I was taken from London to New York to Ireland, invited into the lives of the Riordan family on the day their father leaves the house and never returns.

Michael Francis, Monica and Aoife haven't spoken to each other in years, having taken themselves world apart. All three have angry memories about their childhoods, and have chosen to avoid their siblings in their adult lives. But when their mother, Gretta, calls to say their father has disappeared, they must put the past behind them to bring him home. 

This is the most recent book I have read as part of the staff book club and, having never read any Maggie O'Farrell before, I had expected it to be one of those self-indulgent stories about middle class families full of secrets. And yes, whilst it is about a middle class family with secrets, it is brilliantly written and full of warmth. 

O'Farrell's characterisation is astonishing - the plot plays out over just three days, leaving her plenty of room to develop fully rounded and realistic individuals. Gretta, for example, is a lonely and desperate woman, raised Irish Catholic and shocked by some of the choices her children have made. Her pride is overwhelming; but what I love most is the fact O'Farrell has made her one of those mothers who would take to an empty room if she thought there was a chance someone was listening. 

The Irish Catholic heritage has a strong impact upon the family - strangely, it makes them all proud and guilty in equal measure. But the fact that the Riordan family are so multi-dimensional makes for an interesting and reflective novel - one that I particularly enjoyed reading whilst sat in the sun. 

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

A Streetcar Named Desire

A Streetcar Named Desire
Tenessee Williams
London, Methuen, 2009, 90p

What I like most about reading a play is that it can so often be done in the space of a day. And in that time, with a play like A Streetcar Named Desire, you can go from the comfort of your living room to the streets of Louisiana.

Blanche DuBois is visiting her sister, Stella, and her new husband, Stanley. She is a fragile, dreamy woman who is shocked to find her sister, once a Southern belle, is living in a dingy flat in New Orleans. To Blanche, Stanley seems aggressive and common, but Stella is smitten, and though they fight often and loudly, they make up with sweet kisses and tenderness. But the addition of Blanche to Stanley and Stella's household puts a strain on the couple, and it becomes increasingly apparent that Blanche may not be telling the truth about her visit.

Tenessee Williams' play is gritty and dramatic, contrasting Stanley's rough manners with Blanche's fragile state of mind. To Stanley, Blanche appears to be a compulsive liar, though she is suffering from mental health problems and seems to have a fantastical way of rationalising her past.

After I read the book, I watched the 1951 movie with Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando, which added another level of depth and drama to the play. Brando's performance - borish and sensual - is the complete antithesis of Leigh's scatty and angelic Blanche. And between the two sits the marvellous Kim Hunter (Stella), torn between sister and lover.

Plus, Brando is incredibly hot.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Gaby's Angel

Gaby's Angel
Janet Hogarth
Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2013, 271p

When her best friend dies, Gaby is at a complete loss. She has other friends, but Emily was a bright, bubbly girl and the two friends came as a pair. Gaby knows life will never be the same again. And yet, it feels to Gaby like Emily is still around, watching over her like a guardian angel. Emily coaches Gaby through bad days at school and encourages her to get back out there. But Gaby is scared that Emily is pushing her towards the new girl at school, and if Gaby makes friends with Francesca, what does that mean for her angel, Emily?

Gaby's Angel is a heart-warming story about life after loss. It has all the typical tropes of a girly read, with embarrassing parents, boring days in school, and a handsome love interest; but it also explores the difficulties of being a teenage girl in extraordinary and tragic circumstances. 

And Gaby finds that she is not the only one suffering after the death of her friend. With time, she comes to realise that her classmates miss Emily, too. And even the new girl has experienced loss of another sort in her past. But friendship is the strongest medicine, and important theme in this novel. 

Sunday, 18 May 2014

When the Guns Fall Silent

When the Guns Fall Silent
James Riordan
Oxford, OUP, 2013, 153p

The events of Christmas Day in 1914 is the stuff of legends. It is written about, adapted for television, and heralded as one of the great symbols of humanity.

When the Guns Fall Silent is another account of this day. When veteran Jack takes his grandson to see the graves in France, he finds the grave of one of his friends has been recently visited. Upon the memorial sits a picture of a group of young men on Christmas Day in 1914, Brits and Germans together on that unique day. Jack sees a face he recognises, and visions of the war return to him.

This novel recounts how Jack ended up on the front line, even though he was too young to be there. When war breaks out and young men join the army, Jack and his friend Harry are recruited to the Portsmouth FC first team. Part of their commitment involves training with the military reserves, and the boys soon find themselves beaten down and remoulded into soldiers. Taking pride in their new-found heroism, they sign up and are shipped to France, where the horrors of war are like nothing they could have imagined.

Then, on Christmas Day, a German soldier plants a Christmas tree, and soon the two sides have agreed a temporary ceasefire. It is almost unimaginable that they can go back to killing one another the next day.

The trenches have become such a vivid image in the minds of the public that Riordan does not need to waste time describing the grime and horror, but instead can concentrate on the development of Jack and his German comrades. He also fills the book with facts about the war - little snippets of information about the suffrage movement and war propaganda disguised as fictional elements of the story.

When the Guns Fall Silent is a touching, beautifully written story; perfectly timed for republication this year.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Cosmic Disco

Cosmic Disco
Grace Nichols
London, Francis Lincoln, 2013, 79p

I am a huge fan of everything Grace Nichols does. Her poetry is full of imagery that seeps into your subconscious and roots itself there in your dreams. This collection has a variety of themes, focusing on space and the natural world.

Nichols is an observational poet, finding beauty in the world and describing it through simple language and vivid images. She pinpoints details in ways you never thought about before and makes them seem so obvious; for example, her poem Sky Artist looks at the clouds and imagines who is moulding them into shapes.

Elsewhere, she personifies the seasons as if they were people, calling them Lady Winter and Miss Spring. She uses rhythm and rhyme in some, where others are left less structure. Some are short, and some are long, but all bring to mind vibrant images of the world around us.

My only slight issue with Cosmic Disco is the cover. Within the pages are black and white illustraations from Alice Wright, which perfectly match the corresponding poems and add to the power of the imagery. But I think the cover is a little childish, and might put some teenage readers off opening up the book and discovering the amazing writing within.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Sky Run

Sky Run
Alex Shearer
London, Hot Keys, 2013, 267p

I have confessed in the past that I am not great with teenage fantasy, particulary when it is not written very well and it is impossible to visualise the action. However, Sky Run is far from the usual fantasy fiction - it is funny, original, and has a lesson to teach the reader.

Gemma and Martin are travelling with their Gran to start school. They have grown up in isolation on a floating island in a dystopian future where the world has been shattered into small flecks of land orbitting the sun. Gran thinks the kids would benefit from some real-life experience and the opportunity to meet other children. On the journey, the threesome face strange dangers and meet perculiar people: sky-sharks and cloud-hunters and an island of people high on kelp. With each leg of their journey, Martin and Gemma learn something new about the world of which they had previously seen so little.

I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed this novel, but I think I can pin my adoration down to the characters. The book is narrated by each of the family members, starting with Gran, a tough, brave, street-wise old woman of one hundred and twenty years. She loves the kids dearly, despite her initial reluctance to take them on when the orphans turned up on her island. When it came to the end of her monologue, I was apprehensive about reading the voices of Gemma and Martin because Gran had been so welcoming and entertaining, but the children proved to be just as interesting. Martin is a curious, sometimes naive boy, whilst Gemma has the appearance of being tough as nails but is secretly a softy.

Along the way, the people they meet teach the children something new about the world. They learn not to judge people by first appearances, that an island called 'Friendly' is far from friendly, and that rats like the smell of young boys. They also pick up some strays along the way - a warrior, taken from his family and trained as a soldier, but now alone; and a young girl who has read all the books in her father's home a million times. City Island is handing out free education to all who want it, and these individuals hugely value the opportunity.

Sky Run is an uplifting novel that takes you on a fascinating and educational journey through a strange world; but what I love most is the characters, who welcome you into their adventure with open arms.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

A Farewell to Arms

A Farewell to Arms
Ernest Hemingway
London, Arrow Books, 2004, 293p

This is a rather delayed write up, considering I actually read this novel about a month ago for the second of our staff book club meetings - a lovely gathering to discuss Hemingway. Last time, we realised that none amongst us had read the American great before, so we set out to rectify this!

Frederic Henry is an American ambulance driver for the Italian army during World War One. On a simple level, A Farewell to Arms is about Henry's love affair with an English nurse, Catherine Barkley; but that is only one small part of this novel. It is a vivid story about conflict, masculinity and the beauty of Italy.

Having read so much children's literature recently, Hemingway's prose was initially somewhat hard to get into; but as I read on, I found myself engrossed in the long, descriptive passages and the conversational style. What I particularly enjoyed was the fact that he did not indicate who was talking in sections of dialogue, leaving it up to you to work out who was saying what. As I got to know the characters better I could work out who was talking by their style of speech and the voices I had created for them in my mind.

This is not a particularly action-packed novel. Sometimes, when people were killed, it took a moment for me to realise because nothing was written literally. The realities of war felt distant from the protagonists, as if they could protect themselves by blocking out the death and devastation around them.  

In terms of the plotting, this novel is a perfect model of realist writing - opening a window into the life of a soldier, viewing for a short while, and then closing. More modern fiction tends to be preoccupied with the psychology of the characters, embedding flash backs to contextualise their childhood. I found myself wondering how Henry had ended up in Italy, and Hemingway never satisfied my curiosity, but I really appreciate this. Instead, A Farewell to Arms presented me with a perfect snippet of the lives of Frederic and Catherine.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Doll Bones

Doll Bones
Holly Black
London, Doubleday, 2013, 244p

Zach's dad thinks he's too old to play with dolls. At twelve years old, Zach spends a lot of his time hanging out with Alice and Poppy, and together they embark on the most epic of adventures in the safety of their own back gardens. But when Zach's dad throws away all his toys, Poppy and Alice resort to borrowing the most valued of all their play toys, the Queen.

But the Queen has a secret, one she shares with the children by haunting their dreams. Her real name is Eleanor Kircher, and she died in 1895. Now, she wants to return home to her grave, and the children take it upon themselves to do this for the poor toy. So they set off in the dead of night, learning more about the dark history of Eleanor along the way.

Wrapped in a black cover with a horrifying illustration of a doll on the front, Doll Bones is made to cause nightmares. The Queen is a strange toy, and so much happens around her that is impossible to explain. Adults seem to see her as a human rather than a toy, and at night, the doll seems to come alive, moving unexpectedly whilst the children sleep.

This novel is not as haunting as some of the books I have read recently, though it is well written and has many spooky moments. Dolls are one of those objects that are conventionally terrifying, being inanimate and yet strangely alive. But this book caused no sleepless nights, which is arguably a very good thing!

There is more to this novel than the Gothic, and that is the physical and emotional journey that the friends take. They are all on the cusp of adulthood, soon to grow into teenagers and experience all the trials that brings; but they have this one last adventure together, and we, the reader, are lucky enough to be able to go with them.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Great Mysteries of the World

Richard Hammond's Great Mysteries of the World
London, Random House, 2013, 424p

Non-fiction isn't really my forte, which is why it has taken me some time to read this book, dipping in and out over the last few weeks.

However, it has been a very interesting read, if not somewhat superstitious. Richard Hammond has set out to uncover the truth behind some of the greatest mysteries, from the Loch Ness monster to the Roswell Incident. He outlines the context behind peculiar incidents or legends, travelling across the world to solve them.

The book is broken up into four sections, looking at creatures, alien encounters, underwater mysteries, and treasure trails. And at the back, there is space for the reader to draw their own conclusions based on the evidence provided and their own beliefs. The version I have of this book is a large hardback, though I expect Random House will soon release each section of this book in smaller parts; having a celebrity face on the cover never hurts!

I remain a little sceptical about many of these mysteries, though I imagine it will excite the minds of some young readers. Hammond struggles to find much original information about any of the incidents or legends through his travels, shedding no additional light on the truth. It all felt a but like a good excuse for a series of exotic holidays.

Friday, 2 May 2014

The Great Ice Cream Heist

The Great Ice Cream Heist
Elen Caldecott
London, Bloomsbury, 2013, 181p

This week, Book Trust were excited to announce the selection for the Bookbuzz scheme 2014. To join in the celebrations, here is my review of one of the short listed books - The Great Ice Cream Heist.

During a long and potentially boring summer, Eva's father volunteers her to help rennovate the local community centre. There, she makes friends with Jamie, despite being told repeatedly that he is nothing but trouble. When the centre is vandalised, everyone assumes Jamie and his brothers are responsible, but Eva really wants to give Jamie the chance to prove his innocence.

The friendship between Eva and Jamie defies parental consent and social expectations - all the other kids at the community centre think Eva is silly to befriend such a devious boy. But Eva shows them that there is more to Jamie than the bad behaviour of his family, and that you can never judge a book by it's cover.

Through her friendship with Jamie, Eva is also able to work through her confusing feelings about her mother, who died in a skiing accident. Eva's father is overprotective, bubble-wrapping Eva to protect her from harm, be it physical or emotional. But with Jamie, Eva feels most alive, and comes to understand the value of adventure.

Caldecott's novel also explores the challenges of dyslexia for a teenager. Eva struggles with reading, describing the words on the page as they blur together into a incomprehensible mess. She has to recruit friends to help her read - she is embarrassed by her problem but her friends are happy to help.

The ice-cream heist comes towards the end of the book, where adventure peaks and madness ensues. Eva's story is uplifting and heart-warming, a great fun read.

You can find the rest of my reviews for the 2014 Bookbuzz selection here.