Monday 7 June 2021

Reading Round Up 2021 #23

 That's it, half term is over.

Who else enjoyed a bit of glorious sunshine?

I'll admit, I didn't do as much reading as I had planned to do, the sun made me rather relaxed and sleepy during the day (and hot and bothered at night).


I did however make a good dent in my Netgalley list, which of course means I want to request more books now.

But on to what I did read ...

Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone 5 out of 5 stars

Cat lives in Los Angeles, far away from 36 Westeryk Road, the imposing gothic house in Edinburgh where she and her estranged twin sister, El, grew up. As girls, they invented Mirrorland, a dark, imaginary place under the pantry stairs full of pirates, witches, and clowns. These days Cat rarely thinks about their childhood home, or the fact that El now lives there with her husband Ross.

But when El mysteriously disappears after going out on her sailboat, Cat is forced to return to 36 Westeryk Road, which has scarcely changed in twenty years. The grand old house is still full of shadowy corners, and at every turn Cat finds herself stumbling on long-held secrets and terrifying ghosts from the past. Because someone—El?—has left Cat clues in almost every room: a treasure hunt that leads right back to Mirrorland, where she knows the truth lies crouched and waiting...


I'm joining the blog tour soon so look out for my full review, just now that this book will blow your mind!

Mrs England by Stacey Halls 5 out of 5 stars

West Yorkshire, 1904.

When newly graduated nurse Ruby May takes a position looking after the children of Charles and Lilian England, a wealthy couple from a powerful dynasty of mill owners, she hopes it will be the fresh start she needs. But as she adapts to life at the isolated Hardcastle House, it becomes clear there's something not quite right about the beautiful, mysterious Mrs England. Ostracised by the servants and feeling increasingly uneasy, Ruby is forced to confront her own demons in order to prevent history from repeating itself. After all, there's no such thing as the perfect family - and she should know.


I still have Stacey's other books on my bookshelf to read but Mrs England really impressed me.

I immediately felt immersed in the story, the scenery, the language used, as the reader it felt as though I was transported back in time.

The author has managed to describe everything from the houses, to the clothing, the jobs and the roles of each person. I'd say it was well researched, the details fitting for the story.

Both Mr and Mrs England were fantastic characters.

Strange, perhaps guilty of something - of what we don't know - their movements and mannerisms questionable. I believed that they were both caring parents but as Ruby also discovered, everyone seems to have their secrets (including her).

Although I wouldn't describe this book as a page turner, I certainly didn't want to stop reading.

The StartUp Wife by Tahmima Anam 5 out of 5 stars

Meet Asha Ray.

Brilliant coder and possessor of a Pi tattoo, Asha is poised to revolutionize artificial intelligence when she is reunited with her high school crush, Cyrus Jones.

Cyrus inspires Asha to write a new algorithm. Before she knows it, she’s abandoned her PhD program, they’ve exchanged vows, and gone to work at an exclusive tech incubator called Utopia.

The platform creates a sensation, with millions of users seeking personalized rituals every day. Will Cyrus and Asha’s marriage survive the pressures of sudden fame, or will she become overshadowed by the man everyone is calling the new messiah?


My favourite read this week!

After reading The Start Up Wife I felt inspired and enlightened.

This is a novel that offers a powerful and compelling narrative.

With smart (and sometimes sassy) characters that are all determined in many ways, for themselves and for others.

Dynamics between friends, family and couples was interesting, realistic. I was left contemplating my own actions and how I reacted and interacted with others in my life.

And the conclusion, satisfying. Left open for more thought and plenty of discussion.

The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker 5 out of 5 stars

Meet Chrissie...

Chrissie is eight and she has a secret: she has just killed a boy. The feeling made her belly fizz like soda pop. Her playmates are tearful and their mothers are terrified, keeping them locked indoors. But Chrissie rules the roost -- she's the best at wall-walking, she knows how to get free candy, and now she has a feeling of power that she never gets at home, where food is scarce and attention scarcer.

Twenty years later, adult Chrissie is living in hiding under a changed name. A single mother, all she wants is for her daughter to have the childhood she herself was denied. That's why the threatening phone calls are so terrifying. People are looking for them, the past is catching up, and Chrissie fears losing the only thing in this world she cares about, her child.


From the first line, this book had me hooked.

“I killed a little boy today.”

I don't think any review could quite do this novel justice.

This novel is extremely thought provoking and emotive. I was never quite sure on how I felt for the main protagonist Chrissie but in the end I came back round to how I was feeling at the beginning, just incredibly sad.

The story itself isn't necessarily a happy one (quite disturbing in places) but by the end I was left with a sense of hope. 

Although not for everyone, I think this a rather powerful piece of writing, one that will have you looking for the root of a problem rather.

Is a bad seed born bad or turned ugly by their surroundings and circumstances?

Devastating, heartbreaking, there is no sugar coating from the author in this tale which makes it all the more compelling.

The First Day of Spring is a book that will stick with you long after you've read it. An intense debut that i gripping from start to finish.

And that's what I read. My current read is one from Craig Revel Horwood, Dances and Dreams on Diamond Street. 

What book is in your hands right now?

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