Life of Riley - Book Review

Life of Riley - Book Review

It had been a tough couple of weeks and I needed a book to cheer me up. It'd heard great things about 'Life of Riley - Beginner's Luck' by Simon James Green, so I decided to dive in. It did not disappoint. The writing is absolutely brim-filled with laugh-out-loud comedic scenes and the story has an truly brilliant central character.

It all starts when Riley visits a funfair with his mum and has an awful run-in with a fortune-teller in sequined flip-flops. He accidentally smashes her crystal ball leading her to curse him. From that moment he knows he's in trouble, and the world as he knows it is turned upside down. Disaster seems to follow Riley round, from a school performance in which everyone thinks he's wet himself, through to an incident in which his classmates end up glued together with super-strong glue.

But then a mysterious new boy, Brad Chicago, joins the class, who doesn't seem put off my Riley's mishaps and wants to hang out with him. Riley need to do his best to get rid of the curse and give this new friendship a chance. Will he do it?

One of my favourite sections of the book is when Riley tries to get rid of the curse by taking a bath filled with special ingredients, as per the online instructions from 'Mystic Brenda:'

There was a list of special ingredients that I was supposed to add:

  1. Sage
  2. Thyme
  3. Marjoram
  4. The fermented urine of a newt


I turned the taps on full blast and hurled whatever looked 'curse-breaky' from the cupboard into the bath for good measure. Mum was still at work (she would never let me do something like this), and Beth (who was babysitting) was in her room playing music, which seemed to be mainly screaming, really loudly. This suited me fine because it allowed me to rehearse the magic words on Mystic Brenda's website which I would chant while in the bath:

If the curse does not away,

Ten pounds to me you'd better pay.

All bad luck I will discard

I take all major credit cards.

Mystic Brenda sounded totally legit - she even accepted credit cards! The sign of a true pro.

I hope that convinces you that this is a brilliant book for both middle-grade readers and adults!