5*, book review, debut author

#BookReview Home by Amanda Berriman. @DoubledayUK @MandyBerriman @jounwin @TransworldBooks @bookreview

Home by Amanda Berriman.

My Review:

When I read the blurb for Home I knew that I wanted to read it, I then started to hear from others who had read it and they all seemed to love it so I was even more determined to read it. And I’m so pleased that I did.

From literally the very first page I was hooked. The book is narrated by Jesika, a four year old who lives with her Mummy and little brother Toby after her Father moved to Poland, never to be heard from again. Jesika’s Mum is struggling with life, she doesn’t have enough money and they live in a flat that’s got many things wrong with it, including mold. As a result Toby and their Mum both have a bad cough that won’t go away. Life is about to get very difficult for Jesika.

A book narrated by such a young child could easily be awful but thankfully that is not the case here, not even close. It is written in a simple language but I really liked that. From the very start Jesika worked her way into my heart, she was such a wonderful little girl who felt so very real. Her innocence was wonderful and I loved seeing her world through her eyes, but this isn’t always an easy book to read.

Home gives a brilliant example of how grooming happens, the subtleties and ways in which an adult will convince a child to keep secrets for them. While it is not easy to read I thought that Amanda Berriman handled it sensitively and realistically, something that is impressive for any author, let along a debut author. But some will find this very difficult to read so be warned.

But despite this darkness, there is much light in the book. The love that Jesika has for her Mother is wonderful, but also for her little brother Toby. Jesika really is a special little girl who unknowingly brings out the best in people.

Home had me going to bed early so that I could read and check in on Jesika because I’d be worried about her and how she was doing, that is how real that she felt to me. When I finished the book at 2am I felt as though my heart had been shattered by little Jesika and what she went through, but filled with hope that her life was going to get better. The most upsetting thing? That I won’t get to check in on Jesika again and see how she is doing. Home really is a special book and for a debut author it is nothing short of brilliant.


Jesika is four and a half.

She lives in a flat with her mother and baby brother and she knows a lot. She knows their flat is high up and the stairs are smelly. She knows she shouldn’t draw on the peeling wallpaper or touch the broken window. And she knows she loves her mummy and baby brother Toby.

She does not know that their landlord is threatening to evict them and that Toby’s cough is going to get much worse. Or that Paige, her new best friend, has a secret that will explode their world.

About the Author:

Berriman-Mandy-Author-Pic-640x707Mandy was born in a British military hospital in Germany and grew up in Edinburgh, reading books, playing music, writing stories and climbing hills. She studied music at Sheffield University, where she met her husband, and they climbed some more hills in the Peak District before setting off to travel around the world. After learning to teach in Glasgow, she taught in a primary school in the Cambridgeshire fens (not very hilly), where she rediscovered the joy of making up stories and started writing again. She’s now a specialist music teacher at a primary school in Oldham and lives on the edge of the Peak District with her husband, two lego masterbuilders and dog.

Home by Amanda Berriman is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

5*, book review

Book review: The Mountain in my Shoe by Louise Beech.


The Mountain in my Shoe by Louise Beech.

My 5* review:

I’ve heard a lot about Louise Beech, I have even met her at a book event when she was talking about this book when it was released. Her book, How To Be Brave, has been on my tbr pile for quite some time, but never quite made it to the top. I was determined to read one of her books and so, a little unsure about what to expect, I started to read The Mountain in my Shoe.

What I found was a truly wonderful story, it was a real treat. A book like this does not come along very often.

Bernadette is the main storyteller, she is a character who is stuck in a loveless marriage and is truly isolated from the world around her. We find her desperately searching for a book, what book it is we are not yet sure, but it is missing. Then her husband, who arrives home regular as clockwork at 6pm doesn’t come home and while Bernadette is waiting for him the phone rings and she is told that Conor is also missing.

Conor takes priority and Bernadette calls a taxi to take her to find him, the taxi driver clearly knows her and her routine well and is concerned by her out of character behaviour. The relationship between the two is unexpected and often made me smile.

We soon find out that Bernadette has not been sitting at home waiting for her husband as he thinks she is, instead she has volunteered to befriend a child in care and from that she met Conor, a little boy who she has grown to love in the five years that she has known him. The story of Conor is told by Bernadette, Conor and his foster carer Anne, but also by Conor’s lifebook, a book created by those involved with Conor and his care while he is a looked after child and it is this lifebook that is missing.

The unusual way of telling Conor’s story works incredibly well, different voices give different things to the story and gradually the sad story of Conor’s childhood, from why he was removed from his mother to his various foster families becomes known to the reader. It is beautifully revealed and I think that the reader can’t help but fall in love with little Conor, he is a truly wonderful character and so real that I am sure that he must exist somewhere.

The majority of the book takes place over the evening that Conor, the book and Bernadette’s husband all went missing. The reader pieces the story together as the book goes along, and while some of it was pretty obvious, I loved just about every moment of reading this book.

Apart from one rather large medical mistake, this book is pretty much faultless, Louise Beech is a fabulous storyteller with a real talent. I will definitely be reading How to be Brave soon.

The Mountain in my Shoe by Louise Beech is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.


A missing boy. A missing book. A missing husband. A woman who must find them all to find herself. On the night Bernadette finally has the courage to tell her domineering husband that she’s leaving, he doesn’t come home. Neither does Conor, the little boy she’s befriended for the past five years. Also missing is his lifebook, the only thing that holds the answers. With the help of Conor’s foster mum, Bernadette must face her own past, her husband’s secrets and a future she never dared imagine in order to find them all. Exquisitely written and deeply touching, The Mountain in My Shoe is both a gripping psychological thriller and a powerful and emotive examination of the meaning of family … and just how far we’re willing to go for the people we love