reading

RuPaul by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of the only things my 3 kids have in common is their love for RuPaul’s Drag Race. It unites them as they discuss the outfits, the relationships between the queens and the unjustness of some of the dismissals on the show. This Little People, Big Dreams book is really cute. I adored the pictures and it is satisfying to read. Just the right amount of information for a little fan of the show and a great way of introducing children to the diversity in society. It’s super cute and is a great format. Just right.



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All Our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton

There is something about Trent Dalton’s writing that I love, his short sentences, slightly disjointed sometimes stuttery ways should irritate me, but they really don’t. I find them engaging, and gripping. I can’t wait to read the next page.

This is Molly Hook’s book, she is gutsy and brave and has the most unusual sidekick you can imagine. A shovel called Bert. Look, it all sounds so silly but it just works. Molly is the gravedigger’s daughter, and the daughter of a mother who was a dreamer, literature lover, and disappointed woman, a woman whose potential was never realised. Molly has grown up in abject poverty, she is a little girl who is used to making do, used to dealing with a drunken father and an abusive uncle, and she takes solace in poetry and the books her mother owned. She is used to being alone. But Molly’s uncle has a girlfriend who is a delight, Greta is a beautiful drunk with a bad reputation but a heart of gold. She is an actress in a town that doesn’t appreciate her talents with an abusive boyfriend who she can’t leave behind. And Greta loves Molly.

When Darwin is bombed by the Japanese, Molly and Greta set off together to set about reversing a curse put on Molly’s family. At the same time, a Japanese pilot, crashes and lands in their path and thus a threesome of travelers become adventurers, questers and friends.

This book takes a bit of work to get stuck into, but once you are in these characters will sweep you away. This is a weird kind of magical realism. Just suspend your disbelief and get stuck in and you’ll find a story that is not like any other. You’ll fall for Molly from page one, you’ll despise her relatives and come to understand the value of unexpected consequences in her life. This is a gem of a book. What the heck is Trent Dalton bringing us next? I can’t wait to see. These first two have been amazing, unusual, and moving. I’m totally there for anything he brings me now.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me access to this book, I bought my own copy because I loved it so much.

Prodigal Son by Greg Hurwitz

I really like Evan Smoak, I like his attitude, his cool apartment and his uncomplicated stance on right and wrong. This latest offering takes us into the past, the time when Evan is in an orphanage, where he is spotted by Jack, although the way he ends up being Jack’s protege is not straightforward, and we wouldn’t want it to be.

Evan gets a message from someone who appears to be his long lost mother, but how could that be, he has never met her, she has never been in touch with him. This woman sets him a task which of course will be dangerous and life threatening, I mean it has to be, thats how these books work. So, despite Evan’s compulsory retirement, by order of no less than the President, he is back on task, investigating and protecting and being shot at and beaten to a pulp as per usual.

Another great addition to the series, best of all I love that you can dip in and out of the series and still get the gist. Evan is a machine with a heart. The boys and staff at my high school love these books. We all hang out for a new one. I’ll be recommending this one very highly.

Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power

Nasty! A lot of nasty in this story, and that’s what makes it so good. Sit back, suspend your disbelief and get ready to be hooked.

Margot knows nothing about her family, there has always been just her and her mum. That has been enough, but Margot has been emotionally shut out by her mum, and now she has a clue to her mother’s past and she runs off to investigate. What she finds is a town full of damaged people, huge secrets and very scary going ons. She finds a grandmother who is manipulative and downright creepy, and cops who are trying to pin a crime on her gran. And before that there is a fire, a terrifying, nasty and destroying fire.

This was an audiobook, read amazingly well by Lauren Ezzo, she got the tone just right, the pace and her reading set just the right notes.

I really enjoyed this, found it hard to stop listening to and I’m looking forward to reading more from this author. Give it to kids who loved One of Us is Lying.

Thanks to Netgalley and Bloomsbury for giving me access to this great audiobook.

His & Hers by Alice Feeney

hisThis is a deliciously devious thriller. Twisty and turny and a book to keep you guessing all the way along. This is a gritty book. Plenty of violence to be had, bodies abound, people are horrible to each other and to top it off an unreliable narrator or even more than one. I thought I had this one pegged early on, but it turned on me and messed with my mind and had me trying to figure out exactly how all the pieces fitted together all the way.

This book has really cool narration. The actors are sufficiently creepy which fits perfectly with the story. Positively creepy. Richard Armitage has the perfect voice for Jack, who is investigating the case and Stephanie Racine does a brilliant job of the nuanced role of news presenter Anna Andrews whose ambition sees her chasing murder stories, trying to take down her rivals. There is such a lot going on in this story, double crossing, lies, blind ambition and resentment for things long past. Phew!

If you like your thrillers full of mystery and intrigue and told in multiple voices and in this case voiced really really well, get hold of this book.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me access.

This is Happiness by Niall Williams

thisWhen the Booker Prize list is announced later this year I fully expect this book to be one of the nominated books. This is one of the books I bought for myself for Christmas, a treat book, with firm hopes that I would love it and I so did. The writing is lush and gorgeous, it transports you to a place and time from the past, a past when electricity is about to enter the lives of ordinary folk in a small Irish village called Faha. Change isn’t something that the population are keen to embrace, these people are used to being damp and cold, having limited hours of light and are made of stoic stuff.

Our narrator is Noel, he is looking back on the time in his life when he lived with his grandparents Doudy and Ganga. He is 17 and has rejected his vocation to the church. His mum has been very unwell and the formidable Sister Ambrose has taken him to Faha to live and he continues to receive visits from her. She is terrifying, opinionated and not to be crossed. Noel, called Noe, is a gentle soul, reflective and thoughtful. The characters of Doudy and Ganga are like none you’ve read before, their quiet lives, making do, Doudy cooking awful meals and Ganga complimenting her on them, Ganga standing in a field for hours watching …. just watching. Then the electric company comes calling and are after places for lodgers, Ganga and Doudy decide to take one and soon Noe is sharing his room with the enigma that is Christy. Christy tells stories of his life and they are compelling, his life has been one which Noe cannot even begin to comprehend the adventures he has had in his life, travelling the world, loves and losses and a world of difference from quiet rain sodden Faha.

Then, it all begins to change, Noe finds out the true reason for the arrival of Christie in this tiny backwater. Noe has a terrible accident, finds love and begins to understand Christie and his longings. And, most startling of all, the rain stops falling. Sodden Faha is covered in sunshine! A situation that hasn’t occurred before.

I adored this book, it took me ages to read. I kept putting it down to enjoy the sentences playing over in my mind. It is a book that makes you feel so deeply for its characters. A book to treasure and a book to reread in the future.

The Motion of the Body Through Space by Lionel Shriver

spaceI’ve been talking about this book since I started it. Lionel Shriver certainly gives you plenty to mull over while you read her books. Is it selfish to spend your time away from those who love you doing competitive exercise? To obsessively devote every moment to self improvement? To put your life at risk in order to achieve a goal? The Motion of the Body Through Space is posing some big questions and I was obsessed with this book. Is it ok to put your weekend aside to read Lionel Shrivers words and ignore all else until you are done? I have zero interest in exercise of any kind other than going for walks with my beloved dog. I think people are weird wanting to take part in extreme sports (climbing is the exception).

Serenata and Remmington Alabaster have retired to the quiet town that Remmington grew up in, they live a slightly dull, placid life there. They have a wayward son and a daughter who is married to an unsuitable man and who is constantly having children and talking about God. Serenata reads audiobooks for a living. Remmington has far too much time on his hands. Serenata has been a consistent exerciser all her life. Running miles and now that her knees are letting her down, spending time doing calisthenic exercises with a great deal of rigour. It turns out that her family have resented this, now Remmington has decided to take up running which leads him to triathlons known at Mettleman, a competition which is extreme and requires months of training. We follow his journey, the obnoxious characters he meets as part of his squad of fellow tri competitors.

It is obvious that the author is making a point with this book. She definitely has an opinion on extreme exercise, the self that is so vital to the pursuit of extreme exercise. I didn’t care. I loved spending time with these slightly weird people. It won’t be for everyone but polarising fiction is awesome. In a world where opinions seem to be getting dangerous in some ways, Lionel Shriver isn’t afraid to share hers.

Thanks to the Publisher and Netgalley for giving me access to this book.

The Lost Future of Pepperharrow by Natasha Pulley

lost futureThe Watchmaker of Filigree Street #3

I read and loved The Watchmaker of Filigree Street last year, loved it. Thought about it a lot after I was finished and recommended it to lots of readers at school both staff and students. I was so excited to get hold of a galley of this one which is the third book in the series. I haven’t read the second one but it didn’t matter as I was immediately back in the world Thaniel and Mori and it felt like pulling on a lovely comfortable cardigan on a wintery day. This is exactly the kind of book that you want to curl up with in the sun and while away a few hours with.

Thaniel and Mori have ended up in Japan, Mori’s ancestral fort to be exact. Thaniel has been sent to the British Legation office and he is to try to gain information on the build up of Russian warships off the coast. He also needs out of London where his lungs are being punished by the fog and his health is becoming worse and worse. He has his and Mori’s beloved adopted daughter Six with him, she is one of my favourite characters and I love how she is written. There is an unusual feeling in the building, there are secret meetings and suspicious characters hanging around. Thaniel starts to have a very odd feeling. Mori disappears, Thaniel goes to the British Legation where he is trying to find out why there are suddenly ghosts in the kitchen, the staff are leaving in droves and the Counsel is behaving like an incompetent. Thaniel comes to believe that Mori is in terrible danger and is deeply suspicious of the woman who proclaims herself to be Mori’s wife. Mori has a wife! Shock horror!

There is a lot going on in this book. The action is full on and lovely Thaniel is in terrible danger throughout. I had a terrible feeling of impending doom for both of our heroes and found it uncomfortable reading as I am so attached to them.

The magic, the time travel and the weirdness are all so beautifully handled by this author, I think this is one of the most glorious series and I’m looking forward to the next one. It was the perfect escape from reality in this time of lockdown when I’ve had such trouble reading.

Thanks so Netgalley and Bloomsbury for providing me with a copy.

Deeplight by Frances Hardinge

deeplightWant a beautifully complex and interesting fantasy adventure, then just get hold of this and get stuck in.

Hark is a plucky young man who eeks out a living, not always honestly, as part of a group of young street rogues on his island Lady’s Crave which is part of the Myriad group of islands. It is a rugged and dangerous place, apart from the dangers of cliffs and dangerous foes there is also the danger that lurks in the sea. A sea which has levels, once you dive down under the water you eventually reach a level where you can breathe freely. However, monsters dwell here, monsters that the locals call gods, they have become pieces of gods now, these pieces are valuable, people want them, they give power and are downright scary. If you melded bits of gods together you might create a huge monster which would make you so powerful that you could wield that power in a very unpleasant and dangerous way, even become monstrous in your power.

Hark has been caught trying to rob the wrong person, he ends up in court and is sold to the highest bidder into slavery. His purchaser is a very unusual woman, he is put to work in a sanctuary but he knows that she is doing weird things elsewhere.

This is a wonderful story of courage, determination, loyalty and adventure. Layer upon layer of story all linking and tying together in a fantastic way. There is a lot going on, Hark is pulled betwixt and between, divided in his loyalties and desperate for approval. There is a most wonderful young woman character who is deaf, Hark’s bond with her was one of the joys in this book.

This is one of those books which will work for lots of readers. I think that is what Frances Hardinge does, she writes a book for kids, but the story is so complex and layered that it will keep even the most cynical adult hooked. I would be recommending it to readers who loved Percy Jackson’s world, but this is more complex and nuanced. Readers from intermediate and senior primary school all the way up will be caught up in this world.

A Trio of Sophies by Eileen Merriman

SophieI think Eileen Merriman is one of the cream of the crop of writers for young people right now. She writes stories that are immediately engaging, that are the perfect pitch for the audience of young adult readers. Her books have depth and breadth and tackle issues which are current and curly. I think this book is one of her best.

There have always been three Sophies, each different but all good friends. They are in the same class, they have known each other since they were little and their lives are intricately linked. Now in their final year at school, one of the Sophies has gone missing. Despite the efforts of the police, she cannot be found anywhere. This leaves two Sophies and the novel is told by one of them. The swot, the quiet one, the one determined to rise out of her humble life. The story is told in journal form beginning on the 64th day that Sophie has been missing and counting backwards to the day of her disappearance. It is an interesting structure and it works really well. You feel the tension rise, leading up to the day it all went horribly wrong.

Tied up to the disappearance of Sophie A is the story of Sophie M and the English Teacher. A guy who should have known better, a man who shouldn’t be in a room alone with teenage girls. I really liked the way that this aspect of the story was written, the way James Bacon, the English Teacher, draws Sophie in and entangles her in a web of deceit.

This is great writing for teenagers, gritty and real, using language which feels right. A brilliant book for all schools to have in their library collection.

Thanks so much to Penguin NZ for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Please can we have heaps more NZ books like this.

The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper

Doesn’t this blurb just sound awesome, a little bit of geeky sciency stuff, a dollop of social mgravityedia savvy, a great big romantic sky, two young men, completely different, NASA, astronauts and themes of loneliness and isolation, first love and space. Come on, this book appears that it has it all. But, and it’s a big one, it is really hard to connect with these characters. I really wanted to but it just didn’t happen. Now that I’ve been finished it for a week or so I find it hard to remember the characters names or to rekindle feelings for them. I wanted more. I wanted it to be a little bit more gritty, for people to get a bit more messed up by the bad things that happened in the story. People die in here, I’m not telling you who, but that is big, but the reactions of those affected just didn’t seem to hit the mark.
I loved all the social media stuff, loved the villian of the piece, it is all totally unrealistic but I was in there hoping that this would carry me off and give me a great big case of the feels.

It is ok, I know of students who will love it, I’ll buy it and promote it and encourage people to read it, but it could have had a heap more depth.
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for giving me access.

The Blossom and the Firefly by Sherri L. Smith

If I was to sum this up in one word, that word would have to be the word stunning. A gloriously atmospheric, melancholic dive into a world we never see portrayed, the world of the women who cared for and loved the Japanese pilots as they set off to sacrifice themselves in war. This is the story of a pilot and a young high school student, their lives disrupted by a war not of their making, and their gradual realisation that small kindnesses have a lasting effect. That their short lives are to be sacrificed for a cause is one thing, but the depravations of war are another, food is short, suspicions run rife in the towns and even though there are small pleasures to be found in simple things, it is difficult.

Hana our heroine is a lovely sensitive young woman, dutiful and dedicated. Juro our hero is a gifted musician and his violin plays a pivotal role in this story. These two characters come from very different lives but they meet due to the war and through tragedy blooms something beautiful.

I’ve always loved books set in Japan. This is due to the fact that I’ve lived there twice in my life when I was young and loved it. I was totally engrossed in this novel and shed a tear in the end. I love the fact that it is different to anything else out there for young adults at the moment. I’ve ordered copies for our library because I’m sure there is an audience for those who want to read something different, something based on real historical events.

Thanks so much to Netgalley and the publishers for giving me access to this glorious book.

A Thousand Moons by Sebastian Barry

I was so thrilled to be approved for this book by Netgalley, I completely loved Days Without End and was very excited to read the follow up, especially as it was Winona’s story. Winona was saved from certain death by the wonderful Thomas McNulty and John Cole. They have raised her as their own at a time when two men raising a child, especially a native American child, is totally extraordinary. John and Thomas love each other but their love for Winona and their dedication to her is beautiful. Together with several other wonderful characters, they live on Lige Magan’s very poor farm, scratching out a living and working so hard to make ends meet and feed themselves. Eventually Winona acquires a job, working for the lawyer in town, her preference is to wear men’s clothing and not everyone realises she is a young woman. There are dangers everywhere including rampaging drunks, night riders who terrorise people and men who cannot be trusted anywhere near a young girl. She is courted by a local young man who swears his love for her and who wants to marry her. Her innocence and lack of world experience give her mean that she is naive but suspicious and frightened.

Winona is attacked, brutally. Raped and beaten, but has no idea who did it. Her confidence is shattered, her protectors are trapped by doing something about this terrible thing, they can’t put themselves in danger, her in more danger and put the livelihood of Lige Mangan and the others in jeopardy. Circumstances continue to be dire, with lightness being the love that ties this unusual family together with their workmates and the unlikely support of the lawyer. The unrelenting sadness and misery of their situation is dire.

The hard thing in this book is they way that Winona thinks and speaks, I didn’t love the unusual way she speaks and couldn’t really see the point of that.

While I didn’t love this book as much as I loved Years Without End, it moved me deeply, it made me cry and reminded me again why I love Sebastian Barry’s work so much.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me access.

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

This book is a happy little bundle of froth. A story of an unlikely romance with a nice play on the social media obsession and a bunch of lovely little twists. Pepper and Jack come from different backgrounds and have different family lives. Pepper lives in an uptown apartment with her mum, her sister is away at college and does not get on with her mother. Pepper runs the social media account for the family business a national burger chain. She is a high achieving control freak. Jack works in the family business, a deli on the other side of town. He is a twin and has a close and loving extended family living with him. Jack has invented an app for the kids at school to chat on and this is how these two connect, but they don’t know who they are on the app as it anonymises them. These two are good at water sports and are at the pool all the time. Opposites attract and you can see what is going to happen. Young love will bloom but it will take time and be fraught with difficulties.

I really enjoyed this book, it is full of quick one liners and witty banter. A winning book for the school library and one that will have lots of appeal. There is a lot going on and the pace is really good to keep you turning the pages. A great choice for romance fans.

Vox by Christina Dalcher

About quarter of the way into this I wondered if I could continue. The grimness was relentless, then I decided that the women were absolutely going to have to fight back. The way that they do it is extreme and gritty and downright nasty, but when you have been taken over, reduced to little more than a puppet, you’ve got to take action. Extreme action.

The very idea of silencing women, encircling their wrists with a bracelet which gives them a shock when they reach their limit of 100 words in a day is diabolical. To do it to baby girls is even worse, it means they can never learn to speak properly or express their feelings or wishes. Exactly what the President of the United States depicted in the novel, is after. There are a few moments of ‘what the?’ in this book. The power of the president to institute this much change over a tiny timeframe is not particularly realistic, however those of us who have watched and read The Handmaid’s Tale and felt the fear it induced will not be surprised that this could happen. It is terrifying and makes you understand how difficult it would be to stand up to the kind of indoctrination that ensues.

This would be an awesome book for a study alongside The Handmaid’s Tale. The science is interesting and the terror you feel at how easy it could be to use the cure for disease in reverse is very real.

The Hive by Barry Lyga and Morgan Baden, Jennifer Beals and Tom Jacobson

Crowd sourced social justice, I can see why the idea could occur but as this book shows vividly some things are just built with way too much scope for manipulation.

This is a brilliant contemporary story, already we have a world where you can be taken to task on social media for saying the wrong thing, for backing the wrong idea but The Hive, a government initiative of social justice takes it to a whole new level. The concept is great, lets let the people decide what is right and wrong, lets unleash their opinion and use social media to praise or punish them.

Cassie’s dad was a brilliant IT guy, he was cutting edge brilliant and the government used his knowledge to make the beginnings of The Hive. But the very thing he helped to build is now turning on his beloved daughter after his death. Cassie knows her way around a computer, she knows how to hack but even this cannot protect her from the rage of people voting against her in The Hive. Her ratings skyrocket and she is being hunted to the death. Cassie can’t believe that this is what her Dad would have wanted, he was a good man, it must be something else and she is determined to find out the truth behind The Hive and the people who run it. She is in this danger because she tweeted a comment about The President’s daughter which has raised the ire of him as well as, it seems, everyone in America. She is going to be held to account for her comment and that might even mean that she is killed.

Cassie is rescued by an unlikely source, but can she trust him? Can she trust anyone? She is on the run and if it weren’t for extreme resourcefulness and clear thinking she’d be already dead. Something is going on, something very sinister and Cassie is going to have to sort it out but also keep herself safe.

This is a great book. The action is relentless and the pace doesn’t let up throughout. Cassie is a great character, resourceful as anything but even with that you find yourself yelling at her to take more care. She is reckless and sometimes that gets her deeper in trouble than ever. This is a great addition to any school library, your geeky kids are going to totally relate to a heroine who has the power to change the world.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for giving me access to this fantastic read.

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

There is something about the Ruth Ware style that really appeals to me. I like the atmosphere she creates, the way her characters interact and I think she nails the quiet mystery perfectly. As a boarding school girl myself, I was intrigued from the beginning of this one. The different personalities of the old friends, the way that they met, the ongoing relationship they have, tied by a terrible trauma which happened during their time at school. 

When they are summoned back to the scene of the traumatic event, the friends drop everything in their lives to be there, terrifically worried that their secret might have been discovered. The villagers are suspicious of them, sinister things start to happen and an atmosphere of tension and pent up grievances is palpable. 

This is what Ruth Ware does so well, takes simple scenarios and makes them full of tension and has you on the edge of your reading chair, gripped! I stayed up late at night to finish this book and it was satisfying and as there is a new book from this author out in the world now, I’m excited to read that one too!

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

An immersive novel, once you are in you’ll struggle to think of anything else but the river and the mysteries it throws up. It seems like a historical novel but throws some magic and some mystery into the mix. Our base is The Swan, a tavern on the banks of the river. One stormy night a man arrives, he is near death and with him is a child who appears to be already dead. She is an unusual looking child of about 4 years old. The local nurse is summoned and she feels, along with everyone else that the child is beyond her help. But the next day the child is alive, everyone who has anything to do with the child feels compelled to take her, to provide a home for her and to make her their own. Then there is the man, he recovers, and leaves.

Through these events we come to know the locals in the hamlets around Oxford. The childless couple, the Parson and his maid, a photographer, the family missing their eldest son who may be a terrible rogue. Then there is my favourite the nurse who treated the child at the beginning, I loved her. 

If you are a Sarah Perry fan, if you like a bit of mystical with your historical and if you love a good mystery, this book is going to be right up your alley. The tone is so perfectly pitched and the pace is perfect, it meanders just like the river, it throws up all manner of mysterious items, just like the river and it takes you on a wonderful journey, just like the river. 

Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan

Machines Like Me

Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I was delighted to win a hardback copy of this book from the publishers. It is a lovely looking book and with a cover which feels expensively smooth and waxy, it has been a pleasure to hold in my hands as I’ve worked my way through it. I do feel it was work at times! Ian McEwan is an author I almost always enjoy reading, I like his cleverness and the way he places his characters in conflicts of the heart and the mind. This is exactly what he does in this book, lots of moral complexity and a real commentary on the purpose of AI and our decision making in our conscious human way versus the logic of machine learning. Having read Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari I got the distinct impression that that book had made quite the impression on Ian McEwan, there is a quote from the book in this novel and a feel that the conclusions that eventually the machines will overtake us humans is clear in this novel.

Charlie purchases an Adam, a robot who looks and feels and acts human, it is a vast expense, he could have bought a house! Charlie shares a house with Miranda. She is young and gorgeous and Charlie fancies her enormously. He asks her to help form Adam’s personality, they will each be responsible for half of the different facets of his personality, she agrees and this the beginning of their relationship. Adam falls for Miranda but not before warning Charlie that Miranda harbours dark secrets and is not to be entirely trusted. This is the beginning of the story which will twist and turn throughout the early 1980s where the author has altered political history, bought Alan Turing back to life and generally messed around with the past to make it fit his story.

I found sections of the story totally engaging, Charlie and Miranda’s relationship, the arrival of Mark a young boy they decide to adopt, the relationship between Miranda and her unfortunate best friend. The novel tackles so many big issues and yet somehow seems to do so in a slightly distant and removed fashion. Of course there are amazingly clever passages, there are eminently quotable sentences, some of the comments that the characters make to each other are brilliant, but it was missing a heart, a little like Adam.

It is enjoyable but not amazing and that is a bit disappointing.

View all my reviews

The End of Time by Gavin Extence

You’ll feel your heart being tugged when you read this. The plight of two teenage boys, fleeing the war in Syria is bound to be a heart breaker. I am a fan of this author having read two of his previous books and loved them. He has a way of writing about big issues with a gentle hand which is endearing and completely engaging and that is what he has done here. Through the eyes of his main character Zain, he takes through the myriad issues that face refugees. The fact that they are leaving their homes and loved ones and setting off on a journey to an unknown place with a completely unknown future, lack of money, it is dangerous and with what at times seem like insurmountable difficulties.

Zain and Mohammad wash up on a beach in Greece and then swim from there to Turkey at what is just the beginning of their long journey hoping to get to the U.K. it seems such an unlikely goal but they are gritty kids. On the beach they meet an elderly man called Jesus, he rescues them but in turn they rescue him and he becomes their travelling companion. He is difficult and worst of all is a very bad alcoholic but Zain feels a responsibility for him even if Mohammad is less keen, but then Mohammad is 14 and very self absorbed, understandable in one so young who has been wrenched from everything he knows and loves. Zain is sensible, he manages Mohammad so well, he promised his mum as they left that he would always look after his little brother and this is a promise he is determined to keep. These three will travel through country after country on their quest but on the way they will find strength and love and discover who they are along the way. The boys will discover that Jesus has a secret, they will cope with his alcoholism, they will become separated and there will be danger and sadness galore. The scenes at the end of the book are totally stunning and incredibly moving, tears were shed. 

I only have a tiny criticism of this book, it is just slightly too long and could have been tighter in places but really it is one of those treasures of a story that we need in our lives right now. It is moving and topical. I was cheering for these boys from the start. 

Thanks to the publishers and to Netgalley for giving me access to this lovely book.