You Were Made for This [review]

You Were Made For This

Title: You Were Made for This
Author: Michelle Sacks
Publisher: HQ

[Synopsis]

A bold, sharp, gripping debut about a couple whose perfect life in the Swedish countryside is not what it seems…

In an idyllic house in a Swedish wood, Merry and her husband are building their new dream life with their young baby, far away from events that overshadowed their old life in New York. And they’re happy, aren’t they? Blissfully, blissfully happy.

When Merry’s childhood friend Frances comes to stay, Frances barely recognises her old friend Merry, pureeing baby food, baking, living the Swedish dream. But little by little, cracks begin to show in her carefully constructed fairy tale. And Frances starts to see things others might miss. Dark and treacherous things.

And then a terrible tragedy unfolds…

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[My Review]

You Were Made For This has all the elements of a domestic thriller, which I often enjoy reading, and though it was slower-paced than I expected, I still found it an interesting read.

There are various disturbing, dark parts to this story and I found that for most of the novel I was in a state of rage with certain characters. I don’t want to give too much away but it very effectively highlights how ‘subtle’ pyschological abuse and control can be – it’s not always full on fights and slaps. Merry and Sam’s relationship is put under the microscope by Frances – supposedly Merry’s best friend – coming to stay, and you realise that here we have another very questionable character! No one in this novel is hugely likeable, but this adds to the allure of the story because you really feel like you’re delving into a world of dark thoughts and feelings – there are some twisted things going on, both in the characters’ minds and in reality.

The setting in Sweden was a bit of a welcome change from US and UK-based novels (not that there’s anything wrong with them, but it’s nice to read about somewhere completely different) and I really liked that there was an element of mystery, too – I won’t say what happens but I definitely swung between characters when trying to work out who was responsible. It made me doubt people and then restore my faith in them – and then doubt them again!

I really liked Michelle Sacks’s writing, though I felt some parts could have been shortened a little and the complete lack of speech marks sometimes made it harder to follow (though this also made the novel stand out more). However, I would still recommend this to anyone looking for a well-written domestic thriller.

[Rating: 3.5/5]

Many thanks to HQ for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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The Dead Ex [review]

The Dead Ex

Title: The Dead Ex
Author: Jane Corry
Publisher: Penguin

[Synopsis]

‘I wish he’d just DIE.’

Vicki’s husband David once promised to love her in sickness and in health. But after a brutal attack left her suffering with epilepsy, he ran away with his mistress.

So when Vicki gets a call one day to say that he’s missing, her first thought is ‘good riddance’. But then the police find evidence suggesting that David is dead. And they think Vicki had something to do with it.

What really happened on the night of David’s disappearance?
And how can Vicki prove her innocence, when she’s not even sure of it herself?

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[My Review]

I really enjoyed Blood Sisters and My Husband’s Wife, both also by Jane Corry, so I was excited to read her newest releases, The Dead Ex. I wasn’t disappointed – this is another gripping read which kept me guessing and had plenty of twists and turns along the way.

The story switches from person to person a lot and sometimes I was unsure who was talking, but I do love stories that move away from just one perspective and show you the thoughts and feelings of additional characters; though I felt that at times it could have been bit clearer as to who is speaking, overally I still felt that this novel employed this technique really well, and it allowed me to really feel like I was getting into the heads of some of the characters,

Vicki is definitely an interesting character, shall we say – I personally loved her but there are definitely elements to her character which don’t seem quite ‘normal’ (or what most people would deem as normal, anyway). In fact, there are a wide range of characters which were great fun to read about.

There are some shocking parts to this novel, and some parts which are quite hard to read (and made me feel pretty angry) which added to the heightened sense of tension throughout. I loved that Jane Corry really plays with your mind, making you feel sure of one thing before suddenly changing it all up. This novel was also less of a thriller than I expected, with far more character development meaning it was a bit more of a slower read than I anticipated, but I personally really enjoyed this. I don’t want to give too much away but I definitely enjoyed The Dead Ex and feel it makes a welcome, if different, addition to Jane Corry’s selection of addictive novels.

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Penguin for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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The Life Lucy Knew [review]

The Life Lucy Knew

Title: The Life Lucy Knew
Author: Karma Brown
Publisher: HQ Digital

[Synopsis]

Lucy is about to discover everything she believes to be true about her life…isn’t.

After hitting her head, Lucy Sparks awakens in the hospital to a shocking revelation: the man she’s known and loved for years—the man she recently married—is not actually her husband. In fact, they broke up four years earlier and haven’t spoken since.
The happily-ever-after she remembers in vivid detail is what her doctors call a false memory: recollections Lucy’s mind made up to fill in the blanks from the coma.

Now she has no idea which memories she can trust and she must make a difficult choice about which life she wants to lead, and who she really is.

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[My Review]

The Life Lucy Knew is an interesting read which centers around a topic I always find really interesting: amnesia. Main protagonist Lucy wakes up from an accident believing her life to be very different to how it was when she had the accident, and we follow her as she tries to make sense of it all and coax her memory back.

I liked that this novel was fairly believable, as I wasn’t sure when I started it if we’d suddnely find out someone had done something awful to ‘trick’ her etc (like some other novels I’ve read on this kind of subject) bu, actually, the characters were pretty convincing and three-dimensional, and Lucy herself was likable (though at times her actions could be really frustrating… I suppose she is suffering with a head injury though so I can kind of let her off most of it!)

The pace is fairly steady and at times perhaps could have moved along at a bit quicker pace, but I liked Lucy’s attempts to try and rediscover the relationship between her and her husband (though she doesn’t remember them getting married) Matt.  The narrative jumps between present day and the time ‘before’ – though we’re sometimes unsure if these are memories Lucy remembers now, which therefore may not be very reliable anyway, or ‘true’ memories.

I don’t feel that this novel is anything hugely exciting or particularly different but it is a fun, quick read which would be ideal for the summer, or for when you fancy something enjoyable but relaxing.

[Rating: 3.5/5]

Many thanks to HQ Digital for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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Love Will Tear Us Apart [review]

Love-Will-Tear-Us-Apart-Cover.jpg

Title: Love Will Tear Us Apart
Author: Holly Seddon
Publisher: Atlantic Books

[Synopsis]

Fearing eternal singledom, childhood friends Kate and Paul make the age-old vow that if they don’t find love by thirty, they will marry each other.

Years later, with the deadline of their 30th birthdays approaching, the unlikely couple decide to keep their teenage promise. After all, they are such good friends. Surely that’s enough to make a marriage?

Now, on the eve of their 10th wedding anniversary, they will discover that love between men and women is more complex, and more precarious, than they could ever have imagined. As Kate struggles with a secret that reaches far into their past, will the couple’s vow become the very thing that threatens their future?

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[My Review]

This is the first novel I’ve read by Holly Seddon, and I think this is why I expected something else when starting this novel – I thought it would be more mystery / pyschological thriller for the sole reason that someone else I know had really recommended Try Not To Breathe, which seems to have more of a suspense/ mystery element to it. However, I found that Love Will tear Us Apart is far more of a character-driven, thoughtful and moving story and I really loved it!

The characters, and the way you follow them from their younger days right through to adulthood, is what makes this novel so absorbing. I loved reading about Paul and Kate, plus their very different but interesting respective families. No character is perfect; they each have their faults but, unlike many novels which feature relationships in them, that doesn’t mean that, as the reader, you can instantly tell ‘well things won’t work out this or that way’ because they’re not this black-or-white ‘good or bad’ person. People are, of course, more complex in actualist, and never more so than how they’re portrayed here. Kate took a while for me to like her, and same with Paul, but I felt like I truly got to know them as the story spans many years. I sped through this novel and didn’t want it to end!

The narrative stretches over many years, and there are seperate timelines that show us Kate’s (and Paul’s) younger life, their time growing up and starting a career, and adulthood, plus a seperate ‘present’ storyline that follows them and their family in the present day. We learn all about their lives, both together and apart, and the many different forms that love can come in.

I suppose there is a small element of mystery throughout the book, as we wonder from the beginning what announcement or discussion Kate wants to bring up on her and Paul’s 10 year wedding anniversary. I did find myself intrigued to know what this was, and in the first quarter of the book I kind of wanted the story to stay in the present narrative so I could find out what it could be. Soon, though, I was just as invested in the past storylines as the present.

The plot, despite having various happier moments, felt quite sad at times and poignant – I cried a good few times, and I know when that happens that a story has completely sucked me in. I would definitely recommend Love Will Tear Us Apart and will certainly be adding her other novels to my reading list!

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Atlantic Books for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling [blog tour review]

Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling

Today I am really excited to be a part of the blog tour for Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling – read on to find out what I thought…

Title: Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling
Author: Emer McLysaghtSarah Breen
Publisher: Penguin

[Synopsis]

Everyone knows an Aisling:

Loves going Out Out, but secretly scared of liquid eyeliner.
Happy to drink the bar dry, but will bring her own coaster if necessary.
Would rather die than miss a cooked hotel breakfast, but can calculate the Points in a Snickers at fifty paces.

Aisling’s the girl with a heart of gold, but a boyfriend who still hasn’t made a peep about their Big Day even after seven years.

But then a disastrous romantic getaway shows Aisling that it’s time to stop waiting around and leave John behind for the bright lights of Dublin. After she’s wailed her way through Adele’s Greatest Hits, that is

Between glamorous new flatmates, a scandal at work and finding herself in a weird love square, Aisling is ready to take on the big city. So long as she has her umbrella with her.

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[My Review]

Fun, entertaining and, at times, a bit emotional, Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling is a fast-paced, funny read which I really didn’t want to put down!

The word ‘Aisling’ seems to be a term originally coined in an Irish Facebook group set up by Emer and Sarah, which has amassed many members who discuss the things they’ve noticed and observed about a certain type of Irish girl, known as an ‘Aisling’. I didn’t know this before I read the novel, so it’s not essential information, but I found it interesting that Aisling is a (seemingly fond, not cruel) term for a certain type of girl – and what an amusing character this novel’s Aisling is!

Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling made me smile and laugh, and though she’s odd in many ways, I really warmed to Aisling – seeing the world through her eyes is so entertaining, and left my hugely amused. Her observations on other people and their habits are brilliant. Some parts are ridiculous but that’s all part of the fun, and there are some much more serious moments too – it’s not all light and fluffy.

I wish there were more pages to this novel so I could spend more time with her (Emer and Sarah, write a second book asap please!). Definitely recommended.

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Penguin for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review, and for inviting me onto the blog tour.

Buy your copy here

[Follow the rest of the tour!]

Complete Aisling Blog Tour


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Our Kind of Cruelty [review]

Our Kind of Cruelty

Title: Our Kind of Cruelty
Author: Araminta Hall
Publisher: Cornerstone

[Synopsis]

This is a love story. Mike’s love story.

Mike Hayes fought his way out of a brutal childhood and into a quiet, if lonely life, before he met Verity Metcalf. V taught him about love, and in return, Mike has dedicated his life to making her happy. He’s found the perfect home, the perfect job, he’s sculpted himself into the physical ideal V has always wanted. He knows they’ll be blissfully happy together.

It doesn’t matter that she hasn’t been returning his emails or phone calls.
It doesn’t matter that she says she’s marrying Angus.

It’s all just part of the secret game they used to play. If Mike watches V closely, he’ll see the signs. If he keeps track of her every move he’ll know just when to come to her rescue…

A spellbinding, darkly twisted novel about desire and obsession, and the complicated lines between truth and perception, Our Kind of Cruelty introduces Araminta Hall, a chilling new voice in psychological suspense.

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[My Review]

Our Kind of Cruelty is a gripping read, drawing me further and further into Mike’s (often completely crazy/ridiculous/warped) world. I found this quite a tricky review to write because I feel like it says so much whilst being quite hard to ‘pin down’…

I loved that this is a psychological thriller based around the male offender, whereas – as Araminta explains in her author’s note – this genre is often centered around the female victims. This novel recounts events entirely from the male stalker perspective – and its done so well! At some (limited) points you feel a little sorry for him, at other times you CANNOT BELIEVE he can think that way. And at other points you just feel outrage at the way the justice system works for men vs. women. Yes, this is going to be a novel that will make you a bit angry (unless you’re a much calmer person than me) – either way I don’t think it can fail to provoke some strong feelings, and I love novels that do this.

At some points I wondered if anyone would have this level of tunnel vision… but then I’d think about stories in the news and in day to day life and realise that some people really are like that… scary.

Our Kind of Cruelty manages to make such a statement about the way stalkers and ‘the stalked’ are treated, and delves into that horrible, seemingly increasing, male persona where they feel entitled to a woman and can’t understand the word no. It really makes you think, as well as being a really interesting and well-written novel – give this a go, it’s something a little different and it kept me turning those pages.

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to the publisher, Cornerstone, for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

DON’T FORGET… FOLLOW ME ON: INSTAGRAM @SNAZZY_BOOKS_ / GOODREADS LAURA / AND TWITTER @LAURANAZMDEH!

 

 

 

Whistle in the Dark [review]

Whistle in the Dark - Emma Healey

Title: Whistle in the Dark
Author: Emma Healey
Publisher: Penguin

[Synopsis]

Jen and Hugh Maddox have just survived every parent’s worst nightmare.

Relieved, but still terrified, they sit by the hospital bedside of their fifteen-year-old daughter, Lana, who was found bloodied, bruised, and disoriented after going missing for four days during a mother-daughter vacation in the country. As Lana lies mute in the bed, unwilling or unable to articulate what happened to her during that period, the national media speculates wildly and Jen and Hugh try to answer many questions.

Where was Lana? How did she get hurt? Was the teenage boy who befriended her involved? How did she survive outside for all those days? Even when she returns to the family home and her school routine, Lana only provides the same frustrating answer over and over: “I can’t remember.”

For years, Jen had tried to soothe the depressive demons plaguing her younger child, and had always dreaded the worst. Now she has hope—the family has gone through hell and come out the other side. But Jen cannot let go of her need to find the truth. Without telling Hugh or their pregnant older daughter Meg, Jen sets off to retrace Lana’s steps, a journey that will lead her to a deeper understanding of her youngest daughter, her family, and herself.

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[My Review]

Whistle in the Dark is such a powerful read. Not only boasting a compelling storyline with a definite air of mystery (something that always pulls me into a novel), it also has some really interesting characters of the type I really like reading about – not always hugely likable, but captivating all the same.

The story itself addresses some really serious issues, including missing children and mental health. I don’t want to give anything away you can’t glean from the synopsis, but this is very far away from a light-hearted read about a family; at times it’s shocking, surprising and heartbreaking, but it never feels like this for the sake of being shocking/surprising/heartbreaking. It all feels very genuine, and I can (unfortunately) imagine many families having to deal with elements of this novel applied to their families on a day to day basis.

I really warmed to main character Jen, perhaps because we see things from her perspective, but also because Emma Healey manages to convey her rapidly changing emotions so well.  I felt like I was right there with her as she worried, wondered and drove herself half-mad trying to guess what exactly had happened to her daughter Lana over those four days. What actually did happen actually becomes less key to the story than the relationship between Jen and Lana, and Lana’s father Hugh. The characterisation is brilliant, and though Lana really irritated me, I felt for her too – she’s not having the easiest time herself.

I know this is a fairly vague review but I don’t really want to give much away about this beautifully crafted story. It really struck a chord with me and left me thinking about it long after finishing which is, for me, the sign of a powerful, masterfully-written novel. Definitely recommended and an excellent new release after the brilliant Elizabeth is Missing [see my review here]… in fact, I think Whistle in the Dark is even better!

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Penguin for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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You Me Everything [review]

You, Me, Everything

Title: You Me Everything
Author: Catherine Isaac
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

[Synopsis]

You and me, we have history.
We have a child together.
We have kept secrets from each other for far too long.
This summer, in the beautiful hills of the Dordogne, it is time for everything to change.
You, Me, Everything is a heartfelt and unforgettable novel about the lengths we are prepared to go to for those we love.

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[My Review]

Ohh, what a wonderfully written and emotional book – I didn’t want to stop reading, despite the tears (I do cry easily but even so, this was a heartwrencher!).

Catherine Isaac’s writing feels so like real life – in many ways but, at its heart, just in the way she portrays dialogue and actions – it all feels natural and so convincing. The situation – Jess trying to get her ex (and father of her child) to bond at last, whilst dealing with her own problems and those of her family too – I don’t want to give too much away so will leave it at that – is one that no doubt many people have experienced, and it’s all portrayed so realistically.

I also love the characters in this novel. Jess is lovely, strong and the kind of person who deals with things so well considering what she has to worry about – definitely an inspirational main character! In fact, the other characters are also so interesting to read about. I really like them all… even Adam, despite his MANY faults. You can see why Jess fell for him; I think everyone reading the novel might feel the same just a bit. However what I like most of all about this novel is that people and circumstances are never simple. There isn’t an easy switch to solve everyone’s problems, because that isn’t real life. People don’t always behave so well but that doesn’t preclude them as bad people, just as other people might end up having to deal with more than their fair share of trouble, but unfortunately life is like that sometimes – not always fair.

You Me Everything conveys all of this without being overly depressing – there’s certainly times when I felt upset and shed a tear (or two…or a hundred) but there were other times where I smiled. It addresses some really important issues and I loved Catherine Isaac’s writing.

You, Me, Everything is a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions at times, but it’s a brilliant read and I loved being along with them for the journey.

Many thanks to Simon & Schuster and Catherine Isaac for providing a copy of this book, on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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A Breath After Drowning by @AliceBooks333 [blog tour review]

A Breath After Drowning

Today I’m really excited to be a part of the blog tour for A Breath After Drowning by Alice Blanchard! I’ve got a review coming up, so read on to find out what I thought (and make sure you follow the rest of the tour too)!

Title: A Breath After Drowning
Author: Alice Blanchard
Publisher: Titan Books

[Synopsis]

Child psychiatrist Kate Wolfe’s world comes crashing down when one of her young patients commits suicide, so when a troubled girl is left at the hospital ward, she doubts her ability to help. But the girl knows things about Kate’s past, things she shouldn’t know, forcing Kate to face the murky evidence surrounding her own sister’s murder sixteen years before, bringing Kate face to face with her deepest fear.

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[My Review]

Tense, engaging and intriguing, A Breath After Drowning captured my interest from the very first page. It starts out very focused on the characters, who I really liked (allowing me to become more invested in Kate and her life). Though it jumps backwards in time a little, the storyline is mostly focused on the here and now, which makes a nice change from many other books in this genre which tend to constantly flit between timeframes.

I enjoyed reading about Kate’s childhood, looking out for clues of what might have happened to her sister, but I preferred reading about Kate today, with her mental battles and her quest to find out what really happened all those years ago.

The mystery side of the story develops as the narrative continues, and I found myself completely absorbed – I really wanted to know what had happened; there’s something about ‘cold’ cases which, although they took place so long ago, really grab my attention.

Some parts are more dramatic than others, but overall I felt Alice Blanchard did a great job of not straying into the ‘too-ridiculous’ category. Though the story starts out a lot slower, the pace and tension ramps up as the story continues, ending in a conclusion which left me feeling satisfied and wanting to read more by this author!

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Philippa at Titan Books for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review, and for inviting me onto the blog tour!


[About the Author]

Alice BlanchardAlice Blanchard is an award-winning author. Her short story collection The Stuntman’s Daughter won the Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction. She has received a PEN Syndicated Fiction Award and a New Letters Literary Award.

Her thriller The Breathtaker was the official selection of NBC’s Today Show Book Club, presented by bestselling author Jacquelyn Mitchard. Her debut novel Darkness Peering was a New York Times’ Notable Book. Her work has been published in 16 countries.

Alice grew up in Connecticut, where she drew inspiration from New England’s thick morning mists and mythic woods. Her father was a well known sculptor and painter. Her mother and sister are poets and her brother is a screenwriter working in Los Angeles. Her husband is a photographer, writer, curator and musician.


[Follow the Blog Tour]

A Breath After Drowning_FINAL (1)

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Entanglement by @KatyMahood [review]

Entanglement - Katy Mahood

Title: Entanglement
Author: Katy Mahood
Publisher: The Borough Press

[Synopsis]

2007: at the end of a momentous day, Charlie, Stella and John cross paths under the arches of Paddington Station. As Charlie locks eyes with Stella across the platform, a brief, powerful spark of recognition flashes between them. But they are strangers … aren’t they?

Plunging back thirty years we watch as, unknown to them all, the lives of Stella and John, and Charlie and his girlfriend Beth, are pulled ever closer, an invisible thread connecting them across the decades and through London’s busy streets.

For Stella, becoming a young mother in the 1970s puts an end to her bright academic career in a way John can’t seem to understand. Meanwhile Charlie gambles all future happiness with Beth when his inner demons threaten to defeat him.

In rhythmic and captivating prose, Katy Mahood effortlessly interweaves the stories of these two families who increasingly come to define one another in the most vital and astounding ways. With this soaring debut, she explores the choices and encounters that make up a lifetime, reminding us just how closely we are all connected.

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[My Review]

This story absolutely blew me away. I felt myself experience a range of emotions from laughter and happiness at the characters’ high points to surprise and sadness – many tears were shed in the reading of this novel, but I loved every moment!

The characters (two couples: Stella and John, and Charlie and Beth) completely drew me in; I felt like I knew them so well by the end of the book. It begins in 1977, and I loved reading about life in London (one of my favourite cities!) during that time and in the 30 years after that is covered by the novel. There’s something about following the same characters over a long length of time – observing through the pages the key points in their adult life – which makes the reader (or me, anyway!) feel so much more invested. That’s not to say I particularly liked all of the characters in this book, I just found them incredibly interesting in their own ways, and wanted to read more about them.

The plot is unique in the way that it combines the theory of quantum physics (this idea that particles which became connected can remain so, even when far apart from eachother – this is coming from someone with no scientific understanding, but it’s all presented in a way that makes sense in the pages of Entanglement) with completely everyday, identifiable life events: relationships, careers, having kids, dealing with loss and grief… many things that will, unfortunately, affect many of us at some point in our lives, and therefore is so relatable. The lives of the characters  overlap in various ways and at many points over the years thereafter – someone will glimpse someone else for just a second, and at other times their connections become more fixed.

I loved reading about the ‘near misses’ some of the characters have with almost meeting, and the possibilities that this brings. Katy Mahood’s beautiful writing meant this novel was, for me, just perfect.

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to The Borough Press for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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