Category Archives: Books

Vox – Christina Dalcher

On International Women’s Day, I received an email about The Handmaid’s Tale for a new generation, giving me a quick synopsis of Vox by Christina Dalcher. I was intrigued, so I requested it immediately, and my request was granted a few days later, which was great!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. It’s not published until August of this year, but I suspect there’ll be a serious amount of buzz around it!

Vox – Christina Dalcher

37796866Perfect for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale, don’t miss the thrilling debut that everyone will be talking about this summer!

Silence can be deafening.

Jean McClellan spends her days in almost complete silence, limited to a daily quota of just one hundred words.

Now that the new government is in power, no woman is able to speak over this limit without punishment by electric shock.

But when the President’s brother suffers a stroke, Jean is temporarily given back her voice in order to work on the cure.

And she soon soon discovers that she is part of a much larger plan: to eliminate the voices of women entirely.

The cover art I’ve included in this post is for the American edition of Vox. The UK edition doesn’t have its final cover art yet, but I hope it’ll be something similarly striking – this cover is really stunning.
I really, thoroughly enjoyed Vox. It was a chilling, enthralling read of how quickly things can change and ideologies can take over, to create a horrendous post-dystopian world where women are practically silenced, and forced into domestic drudgery, then blamed for the difficulties that wiping out half of the workforce creates.
There was some really, really great stuff in the book about hypocrisy, indoctrination, how easy it is to get used to something horrendous just because it’s your new normal, and how damaging it is to children to be introduced to ideals, how quickly they’ll latch on to them.
I also appreciated how thoroughly researched the book was, with plenty of information about linguistic development and linguistic delays, and the sound scientific backing behind the book. There’s nothing worse than a book which is clearly poorly researched. Having done some googling about the author, she was in a previous life a linguistic researcher, which explains the rigour of the backing information in Vox.
I read the book with a horrendous sense of anger, and a desire to punch everyone close to me who was of the male persuasion. Thankfully, I read it in my office at work, so I was actually alone, meaning that I wasn’t doing any ill-advised punching.
My only complaints about the book were as follows:
1) I would’ve liked more background. The book seems to be set in the early 2020s, where information and language are a massive part of our lives. To have descended within a single 12 month period to a state where women are no longer permitted to speak more than 100 words, read, open their own post, or even communicate through sign language, seemed, to me, a little too much of a stretch. I know that things can deteriorate incredibly quickly, and we can end up living in an Orwellian nightmare before we even realise it, but I would have liked more background on how this happened so fast in the book.
Tied in with this, I would’ve liked more information about the daily operation of life in this restricted nightmare. Girls and boys are educated separately, but who’s educating the girls? If they’re seen as lesser, needing to know only basic arithmetic and homemaking skills, surely men wouldn’t be willing to teach them? And if it’s a woman teaching them, how is she meant to keep order in the classroom with only 100 words a day?
2) I would’ve also liked more information about how in the hell the US was operating like this as against the rest of the world. The book briefly mentions that the rest of the world has just shaken their heads and let the States get on with it. But I really don’t think that would ever happen? The US is too tied up in treaties and conventions and agreements to be allowed to sequester itself and implement such blatant abuses of human rights, right?
3) The blurb of the book suggests that the ultimate plan is to silence women entirely. There are plenty of examples of this, with women who break the rules, or lesbians or queer women, women who try to escape… but it’s not really explained or depicted in the book that this applies to more than just women. Queer men are also subject to the same restrictions, and as the book continues, it becomes apparent that the overall plan isn’t just about women.
There’s no doubt that this is an enthralling, gripping examination of attitudes towards women, with a thorough background in it, but it really loses focus towards the end of the book. The wide-ranging plans of the government become of much more consequence than the daily subjugation which was depicted in the early chapters of the book, and that loss of focus means that the ending isn’t as powerful as it might have been.
Nonetheless, a gripping and highly entertaining (and rage-inducing) book that I’m looking forward to being published in August.
Four Stars

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The Astonishing Colour of After – Emily XR Pan

I received a copy of this book on NetGalley from the publisher.

I can’t remember why I clicked to request this book. it might have been the cover art, which is totally stunning, or there might have been a promotional email? At any rate, I’m not entirely sure. But I was glad I read this lyrically written exploration of grief and identity, and learned about Leigh and her family.

The Astonishing Colour of After – Emily X R Pan

37758969Leigh Chen Sanders is sixteen when her mother dies by suicide, leaving only a scribbled note: ‘I want you to remember’. Leigh doesn’t know what it means, but when a red bird appears with a message, she finds herself travelling to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time.

Leigh is far away from home and far away from Axel, her best friend, who she stupidly kissed on the night her mother died – leaving her with a swell of guilt that she wasn’t home, and a heavy heart, thinking she may have destroyed the one good thing left in her life.

Overwhelmed by grief and the burden of fulfilling her mother’s last wish, Leigh retreats into her art and into her memories, where colours collide and the rules of reality are broken. The only thing Leigh is certain about is that she must find out the truth. She must remember.

With lyrical prose and magical elements, Emily X.R. Pan’s stunning debut novel alternates between past and present, romance and despair, as one girl attempts to find herself through family history, art, friendship, and love.

I’m not generally a fan of magical realism, so I probably shouldn’t have chosen this book. As well as that, I found it very hard to get into it, putting it down frequently, and reading a few other books while this was still on my Kindle. I’m not sure what it was. Perhaps I’m too much of a neanderthal to appreciate the lyrically written prose or the interesting synesthesia elements of the main character’s narrative. Perhaps it’s that I’m not an artist and don’t see the world the same way that Leigh does. Maybe it’s even that I didn’t know what most of the colours she was listing for her feelings look like. My understanding of colours is limited to fairly basic colour names, as I’m a pleb.

But that said, once I did actually get into this book, there was a lot of really lovely stuff in there. Leigh’s relationship with her father, her mother’s mental health struggles, the difficulty of being a biracial child in two different cultures, and the struggles of families, and taking back something you didn’t mean – all of these were really wonderfully written and I thoroughly enjoyed what I read when I finally stopped faffing about and actually read it.

For me, personally, this wasn’t my favourite book of the year. But given that it’s a writing style that I don’t particularly appreciate, and a genre that I’m not a fan of, and a main character whose head I found it hard to get into, it’s not surprising that this wasn’t my favourite.
However, I can recognise that this book is very, very good. It’s just not for me. If you’re an artist, if you like beautifully written books, and if you like magical realism, then you will probably find this book to be utterly, heartbreakingly perfect.

Three Stars

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Mine – Susi Fox

I received a copy of this book on NetGalley. The tag line and cover art really drew me in. A baby swap? But nobody believes you? I was instantly intrigued.

Mine – Susi Fox

37419687The baby in the nursery is not your baby.

Waking up after an emergency caesarean, you demand to see your son.

But it’s someone else’s child.

No one believes you – not the hospital, not your father, not your loyal husband.

They say you’re delusional. Dangerous.

They suspect you want to steal another baby.

All you know is that you must find your own child before he’s out of reach forever.

And you’re a doctor – you would know if you were losing your mind.


I really thoroughly enjoyed this psychological thriller, telling the tale of a woman who wakes up to discover that the baby everyone says is hers is not hers. I particularly liked the fact that as the reader, we were entirely unsure whether the babies truly had been switched, or if she was experiencing post-partum psychois. The underlying circumstances of her family history and the traumatic situation that surrounded her birth experience only added to this uncertainty, leading to a situation which was ultimately difficult to decipher, but very interesting to read. My only real complaint would be that it was resolved altogether too quickly for me, with little contemplation of the impact of the events of the book on the long-term future of the main characters. Nonetheless, a hugely entertaining and compellingly readable book.

Four stars


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Sam and Ilsa’s Last Hurrah – Rachel Cohn, David Levithan

I received a copy of this book on NetGalley through idly clicking a link on Twitter. I have read other David Levithan books, and David Levithan co-written books, and not really loved them. This is the first Rachel Cohn and David Levithan team-up I’ve read, but given that I don’t think I like David Levithan, I don’t know why I thought I might like this book. Hope springs eternal, I guess?

Sam and Ilsa’s Last Hurrah – Rachel Cohn, David Levithan

38472224.jpgSam and Ilsa Kehlmann have spent most of their high school years throwing dinner parties, and now they’ve prepared their final blowout, just before graduation. The rules for the twins are simple: they each get to invite three guests, and the other twin doesn’t know who’s coming until the guests show up at the door. With Sam and Ilsa, the sibling revelry is always tempered with a large dose of sibling rivalry, and tonight is no exception.

One night. One apartment. Eight people. What could possibly go wrong? Oh, we all know the answer is plenty. But plenty also goes right – in rather surprising ways.

I really didn’t love it. Twins Sam and Elsa are hosting a dinner party to celebrate a change in life pace. Both finishing school, they’re moving on to bigger and better things. Always together, this marks the end of their journey as two halves of a whole, and both of them stepping out of the moult to do new things. The entire story unfolds over the course of one evening as they host a dinner party with six invited guests.
I often like bottle episode books, or episodes of tv series, which are set in a very close environment, and focused over a short period of time. But I really didn’t like this one. It felt like too much exposition was crammed in at one time, and too much character development just happened to occur on this one momentous night. Sam and Ilsa have a horrendous relationship, inviting each other’s exes to their dinner party, and seem to really hate each other. Too many plot threads were briefly touched on but never expanded (Sam and his long sleeves, for example!) and I was left feeling highly dissatisfied when the book ended. With too much crammed into too short a space of time, this book left me feeling claustrophobic and unfinished, and distinctly disappointed

Three Stars


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February Roundup

Two months into the year and I’ve managed to hit fifty total books. I really have no idea how this has happened. I think it’s largely because I’ve read a lot of really rubbish romances on iBooks. I don’t know why I download these books. They’re like candyfloss for the brain. But if it’s late at night or early in the morning and I can’t get my brain to switch off, one of these books is as good as a sleeping tablet, which is probably why I’ve managed to read so many this month.

My only issue is that I’ve not reviewed as many books as I thought I might. I’m thinking about implementing a short review system, for the end of each month, so I don’t have such a massive backlog looming over me. But I’ll consider it for another while.

Some good books in this month’s list, too, though, and books I was really excited to read. Not exactly a full list of quality literature, but in general I’m pleased with how February went. And I even read two short stories! Woohoo!


  1. Hamlet – William Shakespeare
  2. Macbeth – William Shakespeare
  3. The Alphabet Sisters – Monica McInerney*
  4. The Names They Gave Us – Emery Lord
  5. Winnie-the-Pooh (Winnie the Pooh #1) – AA Milne
  6. The House at Pooh Corner (Winnie the Pooh #2) – AA Milne*
  7. Following Ophelia (Following Ophelia #1) – Sophia Bennett
  8. The Cruel Prince – Holly Black
  9. Wilde Like Me – Robin Pentland
  10. The Loneliest Girl in the Universe – Lauren James
  11. Oh My God, What A Complete Aisling! – Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen
  12. Motherfoclóir – Darach Ó Séaghdha
  13. Far From The Tree – Robin Benway
  14. Accidentally Married – Victoria E Lieske
  15. My Favourite Husband – Pam McCutcheon
  16. Golden Chances – Rebecca Hagan Lee
  17. The Fandom – Anna Day
  18. My True Love Gave To Me – (ed) Stephanie Perkins
  19. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
  20. Chance for Love – Ann B Harrison
  21. Her Favourite Cowboy – Ann B Harrison
  22. A Mail-Order Heart – Janelle Daniels
  23. Animal Farm – George Orwell
  24. The Lottie Project – Jacqueline Wilson*
  25. Slaughterhouse-Five – Kurt Vonnegut
  26. Ink – Alice Broadway
  27. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame*
  28. Mine – Susi Fox
  29. Second Chances – Heather Tullis
  30. Sam and Ilsa’s Last Hurrah – Rachel Cohn, David Levithan
  31. The Sheikh’s Twin Baby Surprise – Holly Rayner
  32. Almost Love – Louise O’Neill

 Short Stories

  1. The Text – Claire Douglas
  2. The Sleeper and the Spindle – Neil Gaiman

Cover Art

Favourite Book This Month

Almost Love. I’ve been looking forward to this one since it was announced, and I was lucky enough to get a NetGalley copy, so I’ve read it, even though it only publishes today. It was hard and unflinching and not altogether lovely (not at all lovely, really) but it was great! Definitely my favourite this month.

Least Favourite Book This Month

I really, really did not like The Sheikh’s Twin Baby Surprise. I know I didn’t expect it to be any good. It was free on iBooks and the whole premise was ridiculous. Plus the title gave away the big twist near the end. But it was just… atrociously bad. And looking on GoodReads, there’s a whole series that covers triplets, quads, quints, and sextuplets. I will NOT be seeking them out. Terrible book!

Favourite cover art

There are so many great covers in this month’s list, that I feel a little guilty I had no trouble picking my favourite. Even though there were some strong contenders, I was blown away by how great Ink looks. The image in this blog post doesn’t even do it justice, because it’s foiled, and you have to see it in person to see how it shimmers. I can’t wait to see what the sequel looks like, because I bet it’ll be great.





Big numbers this month for books read, but a large proportion of them were utter dross. That said, though, I do enjoy the odd romance book, so I don’t regret it. Will try increase the calibre of what I’m reading next month, though, and just keep the occasional free romance in there.


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Almost Love – Louise O’Neill

One of the best things aboutNetGalley is getting early access to books I definitely would have read anyway. Almost Love is one of those books. Asking For It is a book I think every teenager in Ireland should read, and most adults in Ireland as well. I never hesitate to recommend it, because it’s written so incisively. Emma is such a horrible person, but written so well.

So when Louise O’Neill announced she was writing a book about obsessive love, this time geared more towards adults, there was never a doubt that I was going to read it. Quercus, the publisher, granted a few wishes for it on NetGalley yesterday, and I was one of the lucky grantees. I sat down and read it basically immediately, such was my excitement for it.

Almost Love – Louise O’Neill

35958295If it doesn’t hurt, it’s not love: the gripping new novel from the bestselling author of Asking for It. Perfect for fans of Marian Keyes and Jodi Picoult.

When Sarah falls for Matthew, she falls hard.

So it doesn’t matter that he’s twenty years older. That he sees her only in secret. That, slowly but surely, she’s sacrificing everything else in her life to be with him.

Sarah’s friends are worried. Her father can’t understand how she could allow herself to be used like this. And she’s on the verge of losing her job.

But Sarah can’t help it. She is addicted to being desired by Matthew.

And love is supposed to hurt.

Isn’t it?

Like both of her YA books, this isn’t exactly a warm and fuzzy read. Sarah, the main character, isn’t the most likeable person, and she clearly doesn’t make good decisions. She doesn’t listen to her friends, and she’s selfish in how she acts. She’s thoughtless and self-centred, and most of the time while I was reading this, I wanted to shake her silly and tell her to just cop herself on.

But the really great thing about Louise O’Neill is that she manages to write books which are so compelling, even with a main character who is so distinctly dislikeable. Sarah is never one-dimesional, never simple, and even if I hate her and the way she acts, I can really understand why she acts the way she does.

Her obsessive, damaging love for Matthew and their not-relationship is drawn in a way which shows exactly how she got drawn into a situation which was so clearly bad for her, and why she found it so hard to break away. I have a slightly similar experience of aspects of her non-relationship with Matthew – although not half as bad – and everything O’Neill writes is so very real, it’s hard to look away from.

This car-crash book of a naive young woman who lets herself get drawn into a situation which is so damaging to her and her self-esteem is compulsively readable, and I stayed up far too late finishing it. As ever, O’Neill has produced a work which is bold, acerbic, and very easy to recommend.

Almost Love is published on March 1st by riverrun books.

Four Stars


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Oh My God, What A Complete Aisling! – Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen

OMGWACA is something of an Irish cultural phenomenon, starting as a facebook group which identified the ‘Aisling’ stereotype. An eminently sensible country girl who works in town, but is just waiting to get married to her boyfriend Generic John, and settle down on the family farm (there’s a plot already picked out for them with good road frontage) and pop out a few wains. With a cast of other stereotypes, including Majella, her best friend, and posh Sadhbh from work, Aisling’s living the life of a smalltown girl in the big smoke, and trying to have it all.

OMGWACA was *the* book to give this Christmas. I actually got two copies of it – one from my parents, and one from my sister, so I know that I was ready for the complete Aisling experience.

Oh My God, What A Complete Aisling! – Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen

36161350.jpgAisling is twenty-eight and she’s a complete … Aisling. She lives at home in Ballygobbard (or Ballygobackwards, as some gas tickets call it) with her parents and commutes to her good job at PensionsPlus in Dublin.

Aisling goes out every Saturday night with her best friend Majella, who is a bit of a hames (she’s lost two phones already this year – Aisling has never lost a phone).

Aisling spends two nights a week at her boyfriend John’s. He’s from down home and was kiss number seventeen at her twenty-first.

But Aisling wants more. She wants the ring on her finger. She wants the hen with the willy straws. She wants out of her parents’ house, although she’d miss Mammy turning on the electric blanket like clockwork and Daddy taking her car ‘out for a spin’ and bringing it back full of petrol.

When a week in Tenerife with John doesn’t end with the expected engagement, Aisling calls a halt to things and soon she has surprised herself and everyone else by agreeing to move into a three-bed in Portobello with stylish Sadhbh from HR and her friend, the mysterious Elaine.

Newly single and relocated to the big city, life is about to change utterly for this wonderful, strong, surprising and funny girl, who just happens to be a complete Aisling.

Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen, the creators of the much-loved Aisling character and the popular Facebook page ‘Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling’, bring Aisling to life in their novel about the quintessential country girl in the big smoke.

There was lots in this book that I enjoyed. It had some great character sketches of the types that you meet all the time in Ireland, from the nosy neighbour across the road who always seems to be doing better than you are, to the mammy who just wants to feed all your friends until they explode. And those character sketches were great. They were almost all in the first half of the book, and I found myself smiling wryly at many of them, as I recognised aspects of people I know (and myself) in them.

There were also underlying threads of plot that were great – the second half tackled some heavy issues with a delicate touch, and intertwined a lot of different plot threads deftly. There was some lovely examination of family relationships, supportive friendships, and the different ways in which people can show their support in tough times. These were all in the latter half of the book.

And therein lay my issue. This book was two different things – a collection of character sketches, and a touching story of friendship, family, and relationships. But those two halves of the book really weren’t intertwined at all. From the opening pages of the book, where it was all explanatory and quite funny character sketches, there was an abrupt change of tone in the latter half of the book as it all got serious. This left me feeling really quite underwhelmed, because while both halves of the book were quite enjoyable, they didn’t lead to a cohesive story experience.

OMGWACA was #1 on Ireland’s Christmas book list, and has been picked up at auction by Michael Joseph books in the UK. The authors have a second book as part of their publishing deal with Gill, and I’ll be interested to see what they do next.

Aisling felt disjointed and choppy, but there was plenty in there that was really well-done, so I look forward to seeing what comes next out of these two friends.

Three Stars


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The Cruel Prince – Holly Black

I received a proof copy of The Cruel Prince at YALC, and never got around to reading it. Once it published, this January, and was in several book subscription boxes, I decided I would give it a go. Dark fae, royalty, a human in a High Court of treacherous faeries? There was certainly a lot to recommend this one.

The Cruel Prince – Holly Black

26032825.jpgOf course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

Objectively, I think this is a great book. It’s got faeries, and stabbings, intrigue, political games, and a set of siblings who love and hate each other all at once. Jude is a great and complex main character, stuck between her two sisters as they all try to find their place in the High Court as human or half-human members of their ‘father’s’ household. Torn between wanting to fit in and hating the man who murdered her parents, Jude doesn’t know what to do, and when palace deceptions and intrigues arise, she becomes hopelessly embroiled in them, unable to see the way out.

Subjectively, I found it hard to get into this. I picked it up and put it down several times, not really enjoying the beginning chapters. It felt like a little bit too much exposition and explanation, and not enough stabby stabby action.

BUT when I eventually sat myself down and got into it, the stabbing increased manifestly, and I was hooked. From when I properly got into the story, I had it finished within a day.

There are two more books in this trilogy slated to be published in 2019 and 2020, and I’m very much looking forward to their publication. The Cruel Prince has echoes of the Fae from Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunters series (unsurprisingly, as CC and HB write together), and as far as I know, this book isn’t inconsistent with being set in the same world as Holly Black’s Modern Faerie Tales (the first of which, Tithe, is only 99p on kindle this week).

So, while slow to get into, I thoroughly enjoyed this stabby faerie tale, and am eagerly awaiting the followups.

Four Stars


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Far From The Tree – Robin Benway

I picked this up a few months ago, when it was on special on the Kindle store. It was 99p, and I liked the look of it, so it sat patiently in my kindle library until the day that I decided I wanted to read it, because my phone was in my hand, and I was too lazy to go get the actual hard copy book I was reading at the time.

It was so good, though, I actually got up to get my kindle, so that I could have a proper reading experience (the phone screen is very small!), and had it finished within a few hours.

Far From The Tree – Robin Benway

36512193.jpgA contemporary novel about three adopted siblings who find each other at just the right moment.

Being the middle child has its ups and downs.

But for Grace, an only child who was adopted at birth, discovering that she is a middle child is a different ride altogether. After putting her own baby up for adoption, she goes looking for her biological family, including—

Maya, her loudmouthed younger bio sister, who has a lot to say about their newfound family ties. Having grown up the snarky brunette in a house full of chipper redheads, she’s quick to search for traces of herself among these not-quite-strangers. And when her adopted family’s long-buried problems begin to explode to the surface, Maya can’t help but wonder where exactly it is that she belongs.

And Joaquin, their stoic older bio brother, who has no interest in bonding over their shared biological mother. After seventeen years in the foster care system, he’s learned that there are no heroes, and secrets and fears are best kept close to the vest, where they can’t hurt anyone but him.

I wasn’t expecting a massive amount from this book, to be honest. It was a 99p buy on a whim one day, which I expected to use to pad out some afternoon or evening when I was bored and had little else to do. There are many such books on my kindle, patiently biding their time until I read them, and I don’t think I’m massively excited to try any of them out.

I was so wrong not to be excited to read this. It is wonderful.

It’s an exploration of what family is, and whether you’re born into your family or you find it, about the ties that bind us, both by blood and by choice.

With three very different bio siblings who find each other at just the time they needed each other, this book had a gorgeous mix of love and hatred, pain and pleasure, joy, love, and hurt. Joaquin, Maya, and Grace, who all grew up in very different situations – Grace adopted at birth and an only child, Maya the standout brunette in a family of redheads, and Joaquin having been in and out of the foster care system for seventeen years – meet at a time of turmoil for all three of them.

It could be a little trite to think that their difficulties arrive at the same time as they met their siblings, but I never felt that when I was reading this. The ties that bind us to our siblings, whether by nature or nurture, and family bonds were so delicately explored in this book I couldn’t help but love it.

With a serious heft of feeling behind it, I finished this book emotionally wrung out, but delighted with how much I had enjoyed it, and how little I had expected it.

Not counting re-reads, which get stars for sheer nostalgia reasons, Far From The Tree is my first five-star read of 2018, and it deserves every one of them. I thoroughly recommend this book.

Five Stars


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Following Ophelia – Sophia Bennett

I received a copy of this book on Netgalley

This book became available on NetGalley last week because the sequel was being published. With its gorgeous cover art and interesting story of a girl becoming an artist’s muse, I couldn’t help but click.

Following Ophelia – Sophia Bennett

33256865.jpgWhen Mary Adams sees Millais’ depiction of the tragic Ophelia, a whole new world opens up for her. Determined to find out more about the beautiful girl in the painting, she hears the story of Lizzie Siddal – a girl from a modest background, not unlike her own, who has found fame and fortune against the odds. Mary sets out to become a Pre-Raphaelite muse, too, and reinvents herself as Persephone Lavelle. But as she fights her way to become the new face of London’s glittering art scene, ‘Persephone’ ends up mingling with some of the city’s more nefarious types and is forced to make some impossible choices.

Will Persephone be forced to betray those she loves, and even the person she once was, if she is to achieve her dreams?

Historical fiction with a decent splash of paint, Following Ophelia sets the scene for us as Mary takes up a position in London, working as a housemaid for a middle-class family. However, her pre-Raphaelite looks catch the eye of the local art scene, and she soon begins living a double life, as an artist’s muse. Meeting an enthusiastic, obsessive artist, she soon finds that the world she has fallen into is not all that it seems, and intrigue lurks not far beneath the surface.
Richly drawn, and with some solid historical research backing it up, I felt like the weakest part of Following Ophelia was, sadly, the characters. Mary didn’t click with me at all, so I felt no sympathy or empathy for her, in any of her endeavours. But I think that was definitely that it didn’t click for me. This sweeping romance is sure to delight artists and romance fans alike, with references to pre-Rapahelite greats and a story interwoven with the movement, there’s plenty to satisfy every romantic at heart.

This book wasn’t ideal for me, as I failed to connect with it, but I think it was just that the book didn’t suit me, as opposed to it being a bad book. So if you have an interest in art, historical fiction, historical London, or pre-Raphaelite painting, this one is sure to be a joy!

Three Stars


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