Joe All Alone, by Joanna Nadin

Publisher: Hachette Children’s Books  |  Published 7th May 2015  |  Edition: Kindle, via Netgalley

Counting down the days one by one, Joe Holt shares his ‘adventures’ of the week or so he is home alone.

Joe All Alone

No parents. No rules. No problem? Erm, think again…

From looking at the cover, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a variant of a Macaulay Culkin film – looks fun, doesn’t it?

Well, appearances can be deceptive. Being left alone in a flat would seem like any child’s dream, wouldn’t it? You can do what you want, say what you want, and eat what you want – but what if you couldn’t? What if your primary carers cleared off on a Spanish holiday and left you with nothing but the following basic instructions?:

1. Don’t leave the flat in case people see you. (They’ll report it to the authorities.)
2. Don’t talk to anyone (Refer to no. 1).

Being left behind (abandoned) by his mother and Dean, her current boyfriend, didn’t seem so bad for a short while…

Each day of the story holds its own joy, or new problem to confront.  But little Joe Holt is just a thirteen year old from Peckham. That is until he meets Asha by accident.

Despite building quite a bond with this feisty girl over a short number of days, with her bubble gum and strong opinions, Joe doesn’t tell her the truth about him being alone at first.

When Joe’s folks fail to return home he’s forced to use his initiative to find a more permanent solution to his problems. But when you’ve been told you’re pretty useless and relentlessly start counting stuff under stress, it’s hard to believe you can achieve anything at all.

But never fear! It’s not all total bleakness. In between bullying, a nasty thug who’s watching the flat, and supplies running out, Joe’s quirkiness remains, together with his humour, optimism and a very special friendship.

Hope (if you can call it that) does raise its head, but in a totally unexpected way.  The ending wasn’t exactly what I’d have liked, but I suppose you don’t get everything in life, just like Joe Holt of Peckham.

Rating: 4/5

(My sincere thanks to the publisher for the advanced copy I received via Netgalley.)


You can follow the author on Twitter: @joannanadin | Publisher: @LBKidsUK

 

The Coincidence Authority, by John Ironmonger

Publisher: W & N | Publication date: 4th September 2014 | Edition: Paperback (own copy)

Mr Bond, they have a saying in Chicago: ‘Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action’.  Ian Flemming, Goldfinger

Co incidence Authority

I’m loving this cover!

Can coincidences always be explained, or does everything happen for a reason?

This book entertains that very notion, and the storytelling is so perfect I have no choice but to offer five stars.

I do like a ‘different’ read and this book didn’t disappoint. It flicks backwards and forwards through various points in time, but this is handled well and it’s really easy to follow. I must admit, it’s quite the contender for one of my favourite books of 2014.

It’s not your average, run-of-the-mill book. There’s hidden qualities I couldn’t begin to even try and explain here. It’s fresh, the dialogue has been expertly written and the ending is simply the icing on an already addictive cake.

In brief, it follows the rather unfortunate life of a young girl with the memorable name of Azalea. Her mother, it seems, had abandoned her at a fairground in Devon when she’s just a child, which was awful enough, but she becomes separated from her adopted parents in Africa when she’s just thirteen following a raid at their orphanage / mission…it soon becomes apparent to her that the date of the 21st June is one which she finds herself questioning, as various misfortunes just keep on presenting themselves. So, she decides to investigate this further when she realises what affect this could have on her life, or indeed death…

And no, it’s not all about ramming statistics and mathematical probabilities (or even theology) down your neck, although it does get you thinking. Everything is very cleverly woven into a forever-moving story and is incredibly interesting. Mostly, everything is plausible.

If you’re just a little intrigued, there’s a website that’s been set up to “accompany” the book at: http://www.thecoincidenceauthority.com

And that’s a nice touch to discover after you’ve finished reading. Quite brilliant.

Rating: 5/5


You can follow this author on Twitter: @jwironmonger