The Girl Who Lived By The River (Part One) by Mark Daydy

And now for something a little different…

This book isn’t strictly speaking a romantic novel, although there is romance in it, in an Adrian Mole loves Pandora Braithwaite sort of way. It’s about a teenage boy, his friends, his family, and growing up in the seventies. And I loved it.

It’s 1975, and Tom Alder is fast approaching his sixteenth birthday. Like most boys of his age, Tom is obsessed with music and girls. He is a huge fan of Genesis, and progressive rock, and has a massive crush on the rather posh sounding Megan, who has practised hard to achieve her plummy accent. But what if he could use his love of music to help him get the girl?
And so Tom comes up with a bright idea. He will form a band, and Megan will be so impressed, she’ll fall for him and help him achieve his current ambition – to lose his virginity before he turns sixteen. There’s just one small problem. He can’t play an instrument, doesn’t sing, and has more or less informed Megan that his band already exists. When his so-called school mates get hold of the tape he’s made of his “band”‘s first efforts, it becomes painfully clear to Tom that his grand plan isn’t going to be so easy to carry out after all.
This is a fabulously funny story, which really gets into the mindset of a teenage boy in 1975. Tom’s hormones are all over the place, and his confusion over Megan, musically gifted Claire, and physically appealing Cheryl, is clear to see. The setting is unfamiliar to me, but is so vividly described that it’s easy to picture.
As a child of the seventies, I found the period details familiar and heartwarming. The descriptions of the clothes, the food and drink, and, especially, the music, evoked fabulous memories.
There was also an intriguing thread running through the story concerning Tom’s family. There is obviously some secret there that has yet to be revealed, which I’m looking forward to. I found the whole plotline about Tom’s “lost brother” quite poignant, and think there is more to come from that quarter.
This book is being published in several parts, so it’s quite short and very easy to read. It made me laugh out loud, and I will definitely buy the next part to find out how Tom’s life progresses. A great little read. 5/5

You can buy The Girl Who Lived By The River (Part One) hereĀ .

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Handle Me With Care by Helen J Rolfe

What a lovely story this is! I started reading it on holiday, intending to spread it out over several days. Instead, I read the whole book in one day, finishing it in the early hours of the morning, as I just couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen next.

Maddie lost Riley, her true love, in New York, on the eleventh of September 2001. Her hopes of a happy future were buried in the ruins of the World Trade Center, and ever since that horrific day she has shunned relationships, afraid that she’ll only get hurt again. When she meets Evan – thanks to a rather amusing mix-up involving a naughty cake and a birthday party for an old lady’s one hundredth birthday – Maddie quickly realises that he could be the one to heal her wounds and help her to love again. But Evan has something to tell her, and his news leaves Maddie terrified of losing yet another important person in her life. Dare she risk having her heart broken all over again?
Evan, meanwhile, is dealing with the most terrifying thing that has ever happened to him. With his life turned upside down, he realises that he wants marriage, a family…but has he left it too late? Can these two frightened people take a chance on the future, or has fate played the cruellest trick of all on them both?

This is a really moving story, which tugs at the heartstrings and grips you from the start. Evan and Maddie are great characters and you can’t help but root for them throughout the entire novel. Secondary characters are interesting, too. I really liked Jem, Evan’s mischievous gran, and also his lovely sister and brother-in-law. There is a lot of medical information but this is relayed in a realistic and sympathetic manner and you never feel as if you’re being lectured. The settings are beautifully described and the book is well-written.

I confess I had a tear in my eye more than once while I was reading it, because the emotions that the characters go through are so sensitively and realistically portrayed. There’s no doubt that the issues covered in Handle Me With Care are huge, but, at heart, this is a story of two people learning to overcome their fears and make a giant leap of faith. It’s a story about love, and it’s wonderful. Highly recommended.

Buy Handle Me With Care here:51Idgl8ti5L._AC_UL160_SR100,160_