Publication Day Review – ‘Where The Crawdads Sing’ by Delia Owens ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Thank you to NetGalley, Little Brown Book Group UK and Delia Owens for the chance to read and review this book.

#1 New York Times Best Seller

A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick.

For years, rumours of the ‘Marsh Girl’ have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast.  So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl.  But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand.  Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself up to a new life – until the unthinkable happens.  

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingslover and Celeste Ng , Where The Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of murder.  Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

Breathtaking, mesmerising, haunting, beautiful, heartbreaking and unforgettable: just a few words that first come to mind when I think of this sensational book.

The story begins in 1969 when two young boys discover the body of local football hero Chase Andrews lying in the Marsh.  There is immediate suspicion that the death is not accidental and talk of who could have wanted to kill him. We then go back to 1952 where six-year-old Kya is sat on the front porch watching in disbelief as her “Ma” walks away in her best shoes carrying a suitcase.  The book then continues in dual timelines: we follow the hunt to find who killed Chase as the police try to ascertain what is rumour and gossip and what is fact, and also watch as Kya grows up on the Marsh and learns to not only survive, but flourish.

Reading about how Kya lives was difficult and heartbreaking.  She is seen as “Marsh Trash” by those who live in Barkley Cove, and avoided and vilified by adults and children alike.  After her Ma leaves, her siblings soon follow and she is left alone with her Pa, a violent drunk who is often absent. When he eventually abandons her too she has to find a way to make an income and finds a friend in Jumpin,who owns Gas and Bait which sells gas and groceries, and his wife Mabel.  Her one day at school was a disaster so she gets her education from the world around her and studies the Marsh, sea and sand. For many years she’s unable to read but then Tate, who was a friend of her older brother, offers to teach her. They inevitably fall in love and he awakens a side to Kya she didn’t have before, one where she needs someone and enjoys another person’s company.  When he leaves her heartbroken she feels unable to trust anyone and completely withdraws into herself and her Marsh again, determined never to rely on anyone but herself from now on.

Very quickly after Chase is found, suspicion from the townspeople falls on the Marsh Girl, who was rumoured to have had some kind of relationship with him at one point.  Her elusive behaviour each time the police try to talk to her doesn’t help convince people of her innocence. It seems even in the absence of evidence most people have decided they know what happened and convicted her of the crime in their jury of small-town opinion.

By the time I was half way through the book I was consumed and couldn’t stop reading. It was a completely different book to what I expected it to be, although I don’t really know what I expected. I knew I had a book I loved on my hands and that the trepidation that comes with reading a much talked about, hyped book was unnecessary.

The author has a remarkable ability to make you feel and understand from Kya’s perspective in this book.  You feel her crippling loneliness at a life lived truly alone, her overwhelming fear of anything or anyone outside the Marsh, admiration that she surviving such a life and all she accomplished despite the odds, and anger at the way she was treated, judged, used and failed by almost everyone she meets.

Delia Owens is a phenomenal writer, and Where The Crawdads Sing is a spectacular debut.. It is a long book and I admit there were times that reading it felt like a slog, but that was because of the southern dialect and heavy subject matter and not because of boredom.  I loved this story and it didn’t take long for me to find it hard to put down. It is an eloquently written, powerful, emotive, and extraordinary novel. It is a masterpiece that you won’t be able to forget and will stay with you long after you read it.

Out today.

‘The Illumination of Ursula Flight’ by Anna-Marie Crowhurst ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Today is my turn on the blog tour for this book so here’s my review :

Born on the night of an ill-auguring comet just before Charles II’s Restoration, Ursula Flight has a difficult future written in the stars.

Against the custom of the age she begins an education with her father, who fosters in her a love of reading, writing and astrology.

Following a surprise meeting with an actress, Ursula yearns for theatre and thus begins her quest to become a playwright despite scoundrels, bounders, bad luck and heartbreak.

This hilarious, thrilling, bawdy romp gives us a new feminist literary heroine. This book takes you on Ursula’s unforgettable journey as she battles against what society has determined her life should be and what she knows in her soul is right for her.

Born on the night of a bad-luck comet, Ursula Flight is a precocious child who loves to learn. She dreams of being a playwright and puts on plays that she’s written with her  friends in the woods. Her friendship with her hired maid and love of writing, learning and astrology are all at odds with what is acceptable for a young lady. But Ursula isn’t someone who cares about the rules. In fact she seems to relish breaking them.

Her world changes suddenly when at just 15 years old she is devastated to learn she must marry and give up her aspirations. Her pleading falls on deaf ears and she finds herself  living with a husband in a loveless marriage where reading, stargazing and writing is frowned upon and forbidden for a woman. Ursula will never be content with a sober and tedious life, so when she comes upon the chance for excitement and the opportunity to finally be herself she seizes it. But this is not your traditional happy ever after book and that isn’t the end of Ursula’s story….

The Illumination of Ursula Flight is an astonishing and utterly brilliant book. It was a joy to read from start to finish. This book doesn’t follow the usual formula, like Ursula it follows its own path and breaks the rules. I fell completely in love with the witty, scathing, intelligent, rambunctious, ambitious, determined, forward-thinking, naive, and rebellious Ursula. She dances to the beat of her own drum and the little things like her disregard for social hierarchy all come together to paint a picture of a very vivid personality that you can’t forget.

Despite this being such a fun book to read overall, there were harrowing and difficult parts of the story. For instance, the scenes of marital rape and her heartbreak at being so alone and unloved were the hardest parts of this book for me. Seeing her live in such a soul crushing environment where her ebullient personality is completely stifled was heartbreaking, as was knowing that while this is a tale of fiction her story would be all too common at the time. I think it was important for the author to include these aspects of life in that era as it made Ursula’s tale one you could believe to be true and made her a more empathetic character as her strong willed personality is a little dislikeable at times.

The author had me engrossed in the 17th Century and in Ursula’s world as we watch her blossom from a willful child to obedient wife, and then finally to an independent woman living by her own rules. This period romp may be set hundreds of years ago but it’s story is relevant to our modern times. A refreshing and delightful book, this is one every woman should read. Just be prepared to fall in love.

Out now

Thank you to Atlantic Books for the asking me to read and review this book as part of the blog tour.

 

‘The Lie’ by C. L. Taylor ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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I know your name’s not really Jane Hughes….

Jane Hughes has a loving partner, a job in an animal sanctuary and a tiny cottage in rural Wales. She’s happier than she’s ever been but her life is a lie. Jane Hughes does not really exist.

Five years earlier Jane and her then best friends went on holiday but what should have been the trip of a lifetime rapidly descended into a nightmare that claimed the lives of two of the women.

Jane has tried to put her past behind her but someone knows the truth about what happened. Someone who won’t stop until they’ve destroyed Jane and everything she loves.

This gripping psychological thriller is told in dual timelines by Jane Hughes, a woman living a quiet but happy life in rural Wales working at an animal sanctuary and is in a new relationship. But Jane isn’t her real name. She has been lying about her identity for the past five years to escape the infamy of her life after a girls trip to Nepal went terribly wrong, resulting in the deaths of two of her friends. But someone knows who she is and starts sending notes and messages that threaten to turn her happy life upside down.

I loved the characters in this book and enjoyed that Jane was flawed and not the popular girl of her group as it made her more relatable. I enjoyed the dual timelines and found the chapters that focused on five years ago interesting in how it explored the dynamics of female friendships and how you can think you know someone, or that they’re there for you no matter what, only to find out you’re wrong and be betrayed when you need them the most. As well as dealing with the intricacies of friendship, this book is also about how we can’t escape the traumatic or difficult events in our life or our mistakes no matter how hard we try, and it is important to face your past while also not letting it shape your future.

I had never read a book by this author before but have had many of her books recommended to me. After reading this book I understand why they did. The Lie was an exciting thriller that was full of twists and turns you didn’t expect. I was full of anticipation and couldn’t put the book down as I raced to the end to find out what happened. Throughout the story I tried to figure out who might be tormenting Jane but could never be sure and was shocked and surprised when the perpetrator was finally revealed. This will certainly not be the last book that I read by this author.

Out Now

 

‘In Safe Hands’ by J. P. Carter ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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How far would you go to save the ones you love? The first book in a stunning new crime series featuring DCI Anna Tate.

When nine children are snatched from a nursery school in South London, their distressed parents have no idea if they’ll ever see them again. The community and surrounding area in shock. How could this happen right under their noses? No one in the quiet suburban street saw anything – or at least that’s what they’re saying.

But DCI Anna Tate knows that nothing is impossible, and she also knows that time is quickly running out. It’s unclear if the kidnappers are desperate for money or revenge, but the ransom is going up by £1million daily. And they know one little boy in particular is fighting for his life.

It’s one of the most disturbing cases DCI Anna Tate has ever worked on – not only because nine children are being held hostage, but because she’s pretty sure someone  close to them is lying….

Thank you to Avon Books UK, NetGalley and J. P. Carter for the chance to read and review this book.

“Minutes later, the nightmare began.”

The above sentence ends the prologue and sets the ominous tone for this edge-of-your-seat thriller. I devoured this book and was hanging on every word as I desperately waited to discover the fate of the nine kidnapped children.

It’s a normal day at Peabody Nursery, though there is less the usual amount of children in attendance due to the summer holidays. But the normalcy is shattered when three men with guns lock the staff members in a cupboard, one of whom has a serious head injury after being attacked for trying to protect the children.

DCI Anna Tate and her team race to the scene after one of the staff members alerts the police to the crime. By the time they arrive there is no trace of the men or the children. The nine children at Peabody Nursery have been abducted. When Anna starts talking to the children’s parents it is revealed that one of the children, three-year-old Liam, has Cystic Fibrosis and his health is seriously at risk without his daily medication. With no real clues and no communication from the kidnappers, the police have a difficult and urgent task ahead of them.

As the investigation continues the kidnappers finally get in touch, first posting a picture of the frightened children online, and then follow it with a harrowing video that includes a £6 million ransom demand with threats to the children’s lives if it isn’t paid.  With pressure coming from the families and her bosses, Anna is determined to find out who took the children and bring them home safely. But with few clues and her gut telling her not all the staff and parents are being truthful will she succeed?

I thought the secondary storyline about Anna’s daughter being abducted a decade ago and her continuing search for her was a good one as it connected her to the parents of the children and made her even more determined to find the children. It also gave her a backstory that made you sympathetic towards her and I for one was cheering her on to not only succeed in finding the nursery children, but hopefully finding something to lead her to her own child. These dual abduction storylines make the book doubly heart-wrenching and reminded you the outcome isn’t always a happy one in these circumstances.

This was the first book I have read by this author but it won’t be the last. In fact I was very happy that this is the first of a new crime series. I’m excited about book two and thought Anna was a fantastic character so I can’t wait to see what’s in store for her. The book was full of suspense from the start and it didn’t waver at any point. I had a few suspicions about who might be involved and about half way through I was certain I knew who was. I was proven right but it didn’t make the story feel predictable and my heart was pounding with apprehension until the last page. A fantastic book for anyone who loves thrillers.

Out January 24th.

December Wrap Up

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Well it’s the last month of the year, which I can’t quite believe. This month I’ve been enjoying some seasonal read and working my way through my Netgalley approvals. I’ve been strict and highly selective about any requests so have only added three books to my list this month.  I’ve enjoyed reading the wintry books and I think The Toymakers and The Snow Child are ones I could happily read every year in a new tradition and are ones I’d highly recommend any time of year but are perfect for the cold nights of December.

It’s been another great month in terms of numbers and I’ve managed to read 14 books this month. Something that surprised me with how busy this time of year is. I read eight books from Netgalley, one that was sent to me by the publisher and then four others. I bought a three month Kindle Unlimited subscription for just £1.99 this month which has also come in handy. I’ve read six of the nine titles that I planned to read and have read mostly historical fiction and thrillers this month, not really surprising when you consider they’re my favourite genres.

So here’s what I’ve read in December:

1. ‘Unraveling Oliver’ by Liz Nugent ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This was a book I predicted would be a 5-star read but it ended up being 4 stars. This was because although I loved the way it was written and I was gripped by the book as soon as I began reading, I found the second half of the book disappointing. A good thriller that didn’t quite live up to expectations.                                                                                 

Out now.

2. ‘Blackberry and Wild Rose’ by Sonia Velton ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This debut piece of historical fiction was a joy to read. I was transported to the 18th century by the author for this story of how silk-weaver’s wife Esther Thorel saves Sara Kemp from a brothel and hires her to be her ladies maid. The two women have a tumultuous relationship with Sara feeling anger at her lady’s pious hypocrisy and Ethel thinking Sara should be more thankful.This multi-layered novel follows them from their first meeting as events spiral out of control to a dramatic conclusion. My review for this book will be published on it’s release date.             

Out January 10th. My review will be published on the release date.

3. ‘Let Me Lie’ by Clare Mackintosh ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I’d heard a lot about this author and her books came highly recommended but this was my first time reading one of her books. It won’t be my last. This sensational psychological thriller was impossible to put down. It kept it’s sense of foreboding throughout but also dealt sensitively with the difficult topics of grief, death by suicide and mental illness. The characters were well written and when the truth of the story was revealed it changed everything I thought I knew and I was in awe at the talent of the author and her ability to keep the shocks coming until the final page.                                                                 

Out December 27th.

4. ‘The Toymakers’ by Robert Dinsdale ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This was a magical and mesmerising story of childhood, sibling rivalry, jealousy, love, family, war and of the power of magic. Especially the ordinary kind. I loved the scenes in the Emporium and felt like one of the children watching in awe as the toys came to life when reading. This is a five-star book that everyone should read.                                     

Out now.

5. ‘Her Pretty Bones’ by Carla Kovach ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The third book in the Detective Gina Harte was every bit as heart-stopping as the others. This time the detective and her team are searching for whoever is taking and killing redheaded teenage girls. Meanwhile a girl is being forced to care for a sick woman in horrendous conditions. Are the two cases related? Will the girl be able to escape with her tragic charge? And will Gina get to the killer before more girls are taken? If you haven’t read this crime series then it’s time to start.                                                                           

Out January 17th

6. ‘The Long Song’ by Andrea Levy⭐⭐⭐⭐

This story about July, a slave girl born on a Jamaican sugar plantation named Amity was first published in 2010 and was recently adapted for the BBC. July is taken from her mother as a young girl when the master’s sister, Caroline, takes a liking to her and decides to train her up as her lady’s maid. July also becomes someone Caroline relies on which leaves her envied by the other workers. The novel is set during the last years of slavery and during the Baptist War. It tells of the workers’ fight for freedom, their joy when it is granted and the difficulties they face as free men and women as their former masters assert whatever control they can. This book is not an easy read, but it is an important one and taught me a lot about the history of slavery in British Colonies.     

Out now.

7. ‘The Fourth Monkey’ by J. D. Barker ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The first in the 4MK series this astonishing thriller was one of the best thriller reads I’ve read this year. The Four Monkey Killer has been terrorising Chicago and eluding Detective Sam Porter for five years when he is killed in a traffic accident on his way to deliver another message. The race is on to find his final victim before it’s too late and uncover the killer’s identity. The ending had me relieved I had book two to read immediately because I could not wait to see what happened next.                                   

Out now.

8. ‘The Fifth to Die’ by J. D. Barker ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The 4MK is back in this gripping thriller. Sam and his team have been taken off the 4MK case and are chasing a new killer who kidnaps and tortures teenage girls. But Sam can’t let go of 4MK and risks everything to chase him when the killer sends him a message. When the book ended I was  screaming “It can’t end like that!” This is a crime series not to be missed but with a tortuous wait until book three.                                                         

Out now.

9. ‘The Winter’s Child’ by Cassandra Parkin ⭐⭐⭐

Five years ago Susannah Harper’s son Joel went missing. Ever since she’s been consumed by her search for him and lost her marriage in the process. When she is told by a clairvoyant that Joel will return to her on Christmas Eve Susannah clings to the prediction and her life spirals out of control as she alienates her family and begins to experience terrifying hallucinations. Told in the present day and flashbacks to life before Joel’s disappearance, we see how Susannah’s marriage was full of division since he was born and her approach to parenting made things worse Joel when he started using drugs and skipping school. A heartbreaking story of a mother’s love for her child that was an enjoyable read but lacked the level of suspense it needed.                                                   

Out now.

10. ‘Outside’ by Sarah Ann Juckes ⭐⭐⭐

This debut novel was a dark, twisted tale of abuse, yet also one of strength, resilience and triumph. Ele doesn’t remember living anywhere but the single room she shares with the Others, who aren’t quite like her and talk in their own language. Her brother Zeb used to live their too but was taken away by Him, who holds them all captive. She is sure that Outside exists but must convince the Others so that they can all escape.                           

Out January 3rd.

11 ‘The Snow Child’ by Eowyn Ivey ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This timeless book was mesmerising, magical and heartwarming. Set in Alaska in 1920 it is the story of Jack and Mabel, a childless couple who find they are growing apart since their move to the brutal north. On a night of rare playfulness they decide to build a snow child, carefully crafting her features and giving her Mabel’s scarf and mittens. The next day the snow child is gone and Jack glimpses a girl in the woods. The next day Mabel sees this mysterious, ethereal, feral and wild girl who calls herself Faina and she eventually becomes a surrogate daughter to them. But no one else ever sees her and they start to think the couple has gone mad with cabin fever. You aren’t sure if Faina is real or a manifestation of their dreams come true in this beautiful book. A classic that feel like it was written many years ago, this book captured my heart and soul and is one of my top reads this year.                                                                                                                               

Out now.

12. ‘The Pupil’ by Dawn Goodwin ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This unputdownable and exciting thriller tells of a web of dreams, secrets, lies, heartbreak, control and vengeance. When aspiring writer Katherine accepts bestselling novelist Samuel Morton’s offer to continue mentoring her after attending a week long course, she has no idea how the decision will tear apart their lives and force her to face her biggest mistake.                                                                                                                       

Out now.

13. ‘The Passengers’ by John Marrs ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Set in the not too distant future where driverless cars  are not only possible, but just a few year away from being mandatory, this fast paced thriller will have you on the edge of your seat. Eight people are in their driverless cars going to their various destinations when The Hacker takes control, reroutes their cars and tells them they will likely be dead in two and a half hours. A jury that was supposed to be judging if deaths by driverless cars had been lawful or unlawful, along with the public via social media, are told they must decide who dies first and which passenger will be spared. But how do they make such a decision? And do they really know the truth about the people hoping to be saved?

Out on Kindle April 1st, and in Paperback May 30th.

14. ‘The Illumination of Ursula Flight’ by Anna-Marie Crowhhurst ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Born on the night of a bad-luck comet, Ursula Flight is a precocious child who loves to learn. She dreams of being a playwright and puts on plays that she’s written with her friends in the woods. But at just 15 years old she is devastated to learn she must marry and give up her aspirations, now living with a husband in a loveless marriage where women reading, stargazing and writing is frowned upon. Ursula will never be content with a sober and tedious life so when she comes upon the chance for excitement and the chance to finally be herself she seizes is. But this is not your traditional happy ever after book and that isn’t the end of Ursula’s story. This book is a hilarious,thrilling, bawdy romp and gives us a new feminist literary heroine.                                                                

Out January 3rd. My review will be published on January 16th as part of the blog tour.

So there it is. I’ve read some fantastic books this month and am happy to finish the year on a high note.

It was particularly hard to select a favourite book this month as ‘The Toymakers’, ‘The Snow Child’ and ‘The Illumination of Ursula Flight’ were all so incredible. I think I have to choose ‘The Illumination of Ursula Flight’ as my book of the month though because it was just such a fun read and she’s such a fabulous character.

Have you read any of these books or are any on your TBR list? How many books have you read this month? Comment below.

Thank you to Atlantic Books for my copy of ‘The Illumination of Ursula Flight’ and to NetGalley and the publishers for my copies of ‘Blackberry and Wild Rose’, ‘Let Me Lie’, ‘Her Pretty Bones’, ‘The Long Song’, ‘The Pupil’ and ‘The Passengers’.

‘The Passengers’ by John Marrs ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Eight self-drive cars set on a collision course. Who lives, who dies? You decide.

When someone hacks into the systems of eight self-drive cars, their passengers are set on a fatal collision course.

The passengers are: a TV star, a pregnant young woman, a disabled war hero, abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and a wife – and parents of two – who are travelling in separate vehicles, and a suicidal man. Now the public have to judge who should survive but are the passengers all that they first seem?

Thank you to Penguin Random House UK, Ebury Publishing, NetGalley and John Marrs for the chance to read and review this book,

With any John Marrs book you know you’re about to read something not only great, but different. One of the things I love about this author is no two books are the same. This latest novel was no different in that regard. I was excited by the premise of the book and I’ve always thought the idea of a driverless vehicle was cool and something that would be handy, especially as I’ve never learned to drive. After reading this book I’m no longer so sure….

The book is set in the not too distant future where driverless cars, the kind where all you do is speak commands, sit back and relax, are not only possible, but just a few years away from being mandatory. As always there are some who don’t like the idea of self-drive cars, but most people are embracing this new technology, a technology they’ve been assured is completely safe and impossible to hack. But all that is believed to be true about driverless cars is about to come crashing down. Eight vehicles on their way to various destinations are taken oven by a mysterious Hacker who tells them that he has rerouted their destinations, and in two hours and thirty minutes it is highly likely they’ll be dead. The Hacker transmits the live feeds from the vehicles on social media and the news channels soon pick up the  terrifying story.

In a secret location five people are meeting to view footage of deaths by driverless vehicles and decide whether or not they were lawful. The Vehicle Inquest Jury, as it’s known, meets for one week each month and is made up of four Government appointed officials and one randomly selected member of the public, the latter of which changes each time. This week Libby Dixon, an opponent of driverless cars, is reluctantly the fifth juror. She is in the room when proceedings are suddenly suspended after the foreman, Jack Larsson, receives a call telling him about the news footage of the hijacked vehicles. The Hijacker’s voice is suddenly heard in the room. He has rules that they and the passengers must follow or there will be consequences.

The Hijacker tells the jury that he chose six of the passengers and the other two were in the wrong place at the wrong time when they happened to get in one of the two taxis he hijacked. We get to know the eight passengers and some details of their lives: the chosen six were introduced in the first part of the book and The Hacker tells us about the random passengers in part two.  The jury is then informed that they, along with an eager public via social media, are to chose the first to die and then which single passenger should be saved using the information they’ve been given and interviews with the passengers themselves. But do they really know the truth about the eight people hoping to be saved? And how should they and the public decide which life is most worthy of being spared?

This fast paced book had me gripped from the start. From the moment the first passenger was told they might be dead in just hours I was on tenterhooks and couldn’t put the book down. I liked that it opened with chapters about the passengers, detailing their own unique stories. It gave us a connection to them as human beings so that when their lives were in danger we felt the terror along with them and were fraught with the same dilemma as the jurors in wondering who should be the one to live. From the moment the live transmissions started we were in the same position as the jurors so we agonised alongside them as they tried to make the right decisions and came to terms with the fact they were powerless to save all eight people.

Behind the drama, tension and mystery of this novel lays a deeper social commentary on many issues: how lives and news events are played out online, that people say things on social media that they’d never say in real life from behind the safety of a keyboard, mob mentality both on the streets and online, our readiness to judge others on surface information that can often give a false image of someone or something, how much we are monitored in today’s society and the potential consequences of that, and the us versus them mentality that many have towards asylum seekers and immigrants.

John Marrs is one of my favourite authors and this book has again shown just how talented he is. No matter the topic he will enthrall you. I loved that this book had references to The One, which was the first of his books I read and one of my all time favourites. This novel had all you want in a thriller: it was exciting, full of suspense, intriguing and you didn’t know what was coming next right to the end. I would recommend this book to anyone, especially if you love thrillers. Just make sure you’ve got a clear space in your schedule as you won’t want to put it down.

Out April 1st on Kindle

Out May 30th in Paperback

‘The Snow Child’ by Eowyn Ivey ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart – he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone – but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees.

This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts  with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped off the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place, things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.

“We are allowed to do that are we not Mabel? To invent our own endings and choose joy over sorrow.”

I was instantly drawn in by this beautiful, magical and haunting book. From the start it felt like I was reading an old story, a fairytale, which added to the enchanting atmosphere of the book.

Jack and Mabel are facing their second winter on their farm in Alaska. Things haven’t been what they imagined when they made the move from Pennsylvania and they’re slowly drifting apart. The childless couple are still struggling to deal with the loss of their stillborn child a decade ago, and with never having had the family they longed for.  Mabel hoped the move would help with their heartbreak and bring them closer together, instead she’s lonelier than ever and the two hardly speak. One evening, Mabel is taken with an rare urge to be playful and starts a snowball fight. The couple laugh and chase each other around the cabin until they’re out of breath. That’s when she suggests they make a snowman. As they start to build it is decided they’ll make it a snow girl, and Jack carves the delicate facial features and uses yellow grass for her hair, while Mabel shapes the snow into a skirt and adorns the girl with her scarf and mittens. There is such bittersweet joy in this rare moment as you see the love between them, the happiness they once had and the dreams for a child that never came.

The next day the snow child is gone, the hat and mittens missing, and there are tracks into the woods. Jack think he sees a flicker of blue and red with long white hair, a girl running between the trees. But there is no one near them for miles, and certainly no one living in the woods, so he decides he is imagining the girl and the tracks must be from a fox. But then Mabel sees her the next day and they know she’s real. The child is ethereal and mysterious, yet also feral and wild. You aren’t quite sure if she is real or a manifestation of their imagination born of years of desperation.  From then on the girl, who says her name is Faina, comes and goes as she wishes and becomes a surrogate daughter to the couple, who delight in their new-found family. But no one else has seen this curious child that lives in the woods as she only appears when Jack and Mabel are alone and their friends think they’ve gone mad with cabin fever. Whatever the truth, Faina is a light in the darkness of the long Alaskan winter for Mabel and Jack and helps bring them closer together again.

This timeless book was mesmerising, heartwarming,and simply breathtaking. It is written with such charm that I can’t imagine anyone not falling in love with this story.  Whether or not Faina is real remains ambiguous for the most part, a detail that I loved. I would have preferred it if the last part of the book remained that way too instead of taking away some of the fairytale aspect, but it didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the book. The Snow Child has captured my heart and soul and is one of my top reads of 2018.