23 Oct 2022


 OK, first up today ...

A PLACED CALLED HERE {which by the way also goes by the title There's No Place Like Here in America}by CECELIA AHERN.

Ever since the day her classmate Jenny-May Butler vanished, Sandy Shortt has been haunted by what happens when something - or someone - disappears. Finding has become her goal.

Jack Ruttle is desperate to find his younger brother Donal who vanished into thin air a year ago. So when he spots an ad for Sandy's missing person's agency, he's certain that she will answer his prayers and find his missing brother.

But then Sandy disappears too, stumbling upon a place that is a world away from the only one she jas ever known. Now all she wants, more than anything, is to find her way home. ... Back Cover Blurb

Jenny-May Butler, the little girl who lived across the road from me, went missing when I was a child. ... First Sentence, Chapter 1

Jack understood their positions, they had all reached a point where no more days off work could be taken, sympathetic smiles were being replaced by everyday greetings, and conversations with neighbours were returning to normal. Imagine, people were actually talking about other things and not asking questions or offering advice. Cards filled with comforting words had stopped landing on his doormat. People had gone back to their own lives, employers had moved around shifts as much as possible and now it was back to business for all concerned. But for Jack it felt wrong and awkward for life to resume without Donal. ... Memorable Moment, Page 38 

If I were to sum A Place Called Here up in one word, that word would be 'odd'. 

Odd that the cover speaks more of a Christmas romance {or is this just me?} than ...? Than what? Than the thriller the synopsis hints at? Than this, this odd fantasy/fairy-tale hybrid that oddly enough kind of put me in mind of The Wizard Of Oz?

So odd that for pretty much all of the book all I could think about was National Lost Sock Day. And before you ask, yes, there is such a thing. Celebrated the 9th of May, it honours all the socks that are no longer with us; you know those socks that, though put in the washing machine in pairs, only a single sock comes out.

So odd that alas I just didn't get it ... if indeed there was anything to get. I mean was it all just one big metaphor ... and if so for what? I don't know, maybe I would have found it more of an enjoyable read if I'd just immersed myself in the story and/or the characters instead of trying to work out what it was that I wasn't getting.

So odd that I found myself unable to form any emotional attachment to any of the characters. Least of all Sandy who having found herself in 'Here', a place where all of the missing people and lost objects go {including Sandy's white-and-orange striped left sock ... there you go, what did I tell you? National Lost Sock Day!} is somewhat perturbed {well, you would be, wouldn't you} when her possessions start to go missing within this lost world. 

As I said, its just odd.

And, on that note, onto another strange read ...


When Arthur Hayman, writer of The Hayseed Chronicles, dies, a bizarre chain of events conspire to make his series of children's books world famous. But buried deep inside the books lie secrets that begin to shake the fragile Hayman family - Arthur's son, Luke, reluctantly immortalized as the young hero of the series; his daughter, Rachel, for whom the books are a hole through which her life has fallen; and his enigmatic wife, Martha, who knows that secrets are best kept well-hidden.

For the rest of us, The Hayseed Chronicles, are a fascinating mystery. And at their heart is the twisted, unknowable Mr Toppit who will let neither Luke nor Rachel nor Martha out of his grasp ... ... Back Cover Blurb

And out of the Darkwood Mr Toppit comes, and he comes not for you, or for me, but for all of us. ... Part One: Luke

I came to learn the national characteristics of disappointment; the resentfulness of the English, the downright hostility of the French, who looked as if they might ask for their money back, the touching sadness on the gentle faces of the Japanese - such pain that I both was and wasn't the boy in the books. I was Dorian Grey in reverse: my attic was in every bookshop in the world. ... Memorable Moment, Page 190

Advertised on Amazon UK as 'Mr Toppit: The Darkly Comic Richard & Judy Bestseller'. Hmm! Darkly comic? Really? Having read Mr Toppit, of the admittedly few things I took away with me, darkly comic was not one of them.

weird read that, covering the decades that saw the boom of the British film industry post World War II through to the late 20th century, tells of the
legacy of the hugely popular {fictionalised} book/film franchise that was The Hayseed Chronicles.

An odd mish-mash of fantasy, hidden secrets, social commentary, coming-of-age, celebrity culture and dysfunctional families which combined with the books main theme, that of the emotional damage caused to a child used as the main character in his father's books, somehow or other just didn't work for me. 

Hugely well received by readers and 'critics' alike. Ultimately, I was left disappointed that, for me at least, the book failed to live up to all the hype ... to think that it had remained on my TBR mountain for so long in order that the hype surrounding it might die down. 

Full of cliched and, worse still, underdeveloped characters. I came away from the book feeling that, having given away little of themselves, I did not particularly know any one of them any better than when I began reading.

Most of all though there was the nagging feeling that the author themselves did not know what they wanted to convey ... or if they did they didn't succeed in conveying it to me.


Kelly said...

Hmmm. I'm sorry these didn't work for you. Neither one sounds very tempting to me, though I really do like the cover on Mr. Toppit. As for the first... it's a pet peeve of mine when a book is marketed under a different title here vs. there.

Mary (Bookfan) said...

I'm not sure I've read an Ahern book but I'm always curious about a change in title between countries.

nightwingsraven said...

I am sorry that these books were
a disappointment to you. And I am
not certain if I would appreciate
But thank you for your honest and
excellent review.