The Book Of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir

Thank you to Penguin Random House and the First to Read program for this eARC in exchange for my honest review.

When I selected this book, I did not actually read the synopsis. I just went by the title and the cover; they were both intriguing enough for me to just give this book a shot. What I read ended up blowing my mind and I am so happy I made the decision to read this book! Here is my review:

34503571Summary (Goodreads): Esther Ann Hicks–Essie–is the youngest child on Six for Hicks, a reality television phenomenon. She’s grown up in the spotlight, both idolized and despised for her family’s fire-and-brimstone brand of faith. When Essie’s mother, Celia, discovers that Essie is pregnant, she arranges an emergency meeting with the show’s producers: Do they sneak Essie out of the country for an abortion? Do they pass the child off as Celia’s? Or do they try to arrange a marriage–and a ratings-blockbuster wedding? Meanwhile, Essie is quietly pairing herself up with Roarke Richards, a senior at her school with a secret of his own to protect. As the newly formed couple attempt to sell their fabricated love story to the media–through exclusive interviews with an infamously conservative reporter named Liberty Bell–Essie finds she has questions of her own: What was the real reason for her older sister leaving home? Who can she trust with the truth about her family? And how much is she willing to sacrifice to win her own freedom?


So let me start off with a TW: there are quite a lot of scenes/mentions of abuse so if that bothers you, then you might not want to read this book.

To say I loved this book would not be nearly enough to express my feelings. I LOOOOOOVED THIS BOOK! It had everything I was looking for in terms of twists, and character development, and just …. rawness (yes, I just made my own attribute).

I know that this book has religious undertones to it. And usually, I stay away from books like that. I don’t like books that target a religion and say only positive or negative things about it. But this book is different. It really isn’t about religious beliefs as much as it is about the “commercialization” of religion and the way something innocent can be twisted for personal gain. This is something that various religions have shown. While this book features Christianity, I felt that many of the issues this book brought up can be seen in Hinduism, as well. The use of religion as a platform to make money and fame is quite common these days, and I did not think the author was ever trying to bash any religious tenets in doing so. It’s a tricky balance that could have become offensive – but it didn’t. And for me, that shows a lot of skill on the author’s part.

The writing style of this story was absolutely superb. It was tight and filled with tension, with character POV’s that had me hooked. It was absolutely brilliant and I had no issues with it at any point. It was just consistently good writing throughout the story. The scheming and the planning behind everything was so well thought out and each reveal shocked me more than the next. The author also ensured that there was great character developments so I felt very connected to Essie.

I know that if I keep talking, I’m going to start spoiling the story so I’m going to end my review here. Suffice to say that this is a very gritty and tension-packed story. It is disturbing but if you like messed-up books with brilliant writing, then you should check this one out. I’m giving it a 5/5 stars!

5 star

Happy reading ~

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Her Pretty Face by Robyn Harding

Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for this eARC in exchange for my honest review.

Ever since the release of The Party, Robyn Harding has been a buzzing name in the thriller-writer world. So many people loved that book – but I was not one of them. Nevertheless, I wanted to give her another shot and see if maybe I would see the spark that everyone else was seeing. Here is my review:

36373379Summary (Goodreads): Frances Metcalfe is struggling to stay afloat.
A stay-at-home mom whose troubled son is her full-time job, she thought that the day he got accepted into the elite Forrester Academy would be the day she started living her life. Overweight, insecure, and lonely, she is desperate to fit into Forrester’s world. But after a disturbing incident at the school leads the other children and their families to ostracize the Metcalfes, she feels more alone than ever before.

Until she meets Kate Randolph.

Kate is everything Frances is not: beautiful, wealthy, powerful, and confident. And for some reason, she’s not interested in being friends with any of the other Forrester moms—only Frances. As the two bond over their disdain of the Forrester snobs and the fierce love they have for their sons, a startling secret threatens to tear them apart…because one of these women is not who she seems. Her real name is Amber Kunick. And she’s a murderer.

 


Review: 

The best way to summarize this book is that it is about friendships and past secrets. And I know this sounds intriguing. I mean, it’s what drew me to the story in the first place. And in the beginning, it really was quite good. There was that typical start that I’m noticing in a lot of thrillers, where a woman who feels like she doesn’t belong with other “moms” meets a glamorous “mom” who becomes her best friend. The author also created a good amount of tension that pulled the reader into the story.

But ultimately …. nothing really … happened.

I mean, it was just so predictable. You’ve got these two women who both have “dark secrets” but it is quite obvious from the start who is the more “dangerous” one, just from the way the author relies on overused tropes. Now, I don’t necessarily have a problem with this. It’s a tried-and-tested trope that works so if it ain’t broke, why fix it? But there was nothing unique about the story. There was lack of depth in plot and character interactions, and I didn’t even really like the main characters.

But when I mean nothing happened, I literally mean that NOTHING HAPPENED IN THIS STORY. One character discovers the truth, and when the information gets out …. well, that’s pretty much how the story ends. It just felt like there was all this buildup and it led to pretty much a pointless story. The other character also had a “resolution” of her ghosts but it was quite disappointing; it basically happened in the last 15-20 pages of the book and there was no introspection or depth to it. And I know that the whole point of hyping this character’s past was to make readers suspect her intentions, but it was such a disappointing truth that I felt cheated out of an experience.

I know it seems like I hated this book. But my main problem was just with how things ended. I still think the idea behind the story is very interesting, and it reminded me a lot of the story of Karla Homolka (and that is all I’m going to say because NO SPOILERS). The actual writing of the story was quite good and it was a quick read. However, the ending left me unsatisfied and because the author had so hyped it up with all the tension, I just couldn’t get over the disappointment. For that reason, I’m giving this a 2/5 stars.

2 star

Happy reading ~

Mary B: An Untold Story of Pride and Prejudice by Katherine J. Chen

I love Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. It was one of the first classic novels I had ever read and I thought it was so witty and lovely. I love rereading it, and watching movie adaptations of it, so of course when I heard about this book, I knew I had to give it a go!

36505861Summary (Goodreads): What is to be done with Mary Bennet? She possesses neither the beauty of her eldest sister, Jane, nor the high-spirited charm of Lizzy. Even compared to her frivolous younger siblings, Kitty and Lydia, Mary knows she is lacking in the ways that matter for single, not-so-well-to-do women in nineteenth-century England who must secure their futures through the finding of a husband. As her sisters wed, one by one, Mary pictures herself growing old, a spinster with no estate to run or children to mind, dependent on the charity of others. At least she has the silent rebellion and secret pleasures of reading and writing to keep her company.

But even her fictional creations are no match for the scandal, tragedy, and romance that eventually visit Mary’s own life. In Mary B, readers are transported beyond the center of the ballroom to discover that wallflowers are sometimes the most intriguing guests at the party. Beneath Mary’s plain appearance and bookish demeanor simmers an inner life brimming with passion, humor, and imagination–and a voice that demands to be heard.


Review: 

If I’m honest, one of the reasons I was so intrigued by this novel was because I actually could not remember Mary’s character. I knew she was one of the Bennet sisters but she had such a minor role in the story that I had completely passed over her. I was so intrigued by how the author would shape her personality and show how she was affected by the marriages of her sisters.

There were some positives to this story…. but also some negatives.

The author really made an effort to have the story start off from where Pride and Prejudice began. I really liked that the story went beyond the events of the original novel and into a future that readers had always speculated about. I also appreciated the effort taken to maintain the same language usage as in the original novel.

There were quite a lot of mentions about how plain Mary was in terms of her looks and behaviour. Usually, I am not a fan of repetitive themes but it worked well in the story because it reinforced the idea of why people never really gave Mary a proper shot.

But here’s where the positives end.

While I was excited to see how this author interpreted Pride and Prejudice, I thought there were quite a few flaws. For one thing, there were quite a few discrepancies between this story and the original. I won’t go into the details but there were enough to affect the quality of the story. I also didn’t think that any of Mary’s romantic ventures were developed properly. There was a lack of elevation to it, making it seem very cheap and cringey. She may not have been the most beautiful or poised Bennet sister, but that doesn’t mean that her romance should be any less.

I was also very disappointed in the way other characters in the book were portrayed. The Colonel Fitzwilliam described in this novel was quite different than in the original and I found it hard to wrap my head around this new persona. I was also very disappointed with how the author portrayed Lizzie. She was (and continues to be) my favourite character from Pride and Prejudice and I don’t think the author was really fair in her depiction of her. Call me biased, but I don’t think there were any signs of Lizzie being cruel or selfish in the original, and yet the author in this novel decided to portray her as such. It was so disconcerting and unbelievable for me to read about this “new” Lizzie, who did not resemble the original Lizzie Bennet.

I think that the author tried to do something very interesting and unique here. While I appreciate her efforts in bringing alive a character that was hidden in the background, I do not think that it was executed too well. For those reasons, I’m giving this a 2/5 stars.

2 star

Happy reading ~

The English Wife by Lauren Willig

I saw this book and was immediately drawn by its beautiful cover. And after I read the premise of this story, I knew that I had to give it a shot. It has been so long since I’ve read a historical fiction novel, and this was the perfect chance for me to get back into the genre.

34945222Summary (Goodreads): Annabelle and Bayard Van Duyvil live a charmed life: he’s the scion of an old Knickerbocker family, she grew up in a Tudor manor in England, they had a whirlwind romance in London, they have three year old twins on whom they dote, and he’s recreated her family home on the banks of the Hudson and renamed it Illyria. Yes, there are rumors that she’s having an affair with the architect, but rumors are rumors and people will gossip. But then Bayard is found dead with a knife in his chest on the night of their Twelfth Night Ball, Annabelle goes missing, presumed drowned, and the papers go mad. Bay’s sister, Janie, forms an unlikely alliance with a reporter to uncover the truth, convinced that Bay would never have killed his wife, that it must be a third party, but the more she learns about her brother and his wife, the more everything she thought she knew about them starts to unravel. Who were her brother and his wife, really? And why did her brother die with the name George on his lips?


My Rating:   3 star

Review: This was a really interesting read and I quite enjoyed all that it had to offer!

I love the way the author blended multiple genres into one book. There was a great historical background that served as the perfect platform for this mystery story that explores the depth of love and romance and secrets in a marriage. Everything worked in harmony, and it was unexpected for me so I really enjoyed it!

I also loved that the story was told from 2 different points of view. One story took place in the past and was told from the perspective of Bayard’s wife. The other perspective is Janie’s as she tries to figure out what happened in the end. I loved both of these characters as they each struggled in their own unique ways and had very different personalities. Both the past and present story lines were interesting, but I found that the present was a bit slower in pacing and not as exciting. This was, however, necessary in order to build up the intrigue and the various plot twists, and to give the story depth.

There were quite a few twists and turns and a number of characters that were pretty mean and nasty, which I really liked. I love having characters that are easy to hate sometimes because it makes me want them to be the evil-doers at the end of the book. It certainly added to the intrigue and left me guessing as to who was responsible for the death of Bayard and his wife!

The romance in this novel was done superbly. I loved every single bit of romance in this novel and I wish I could expound on this but it would ruin the story. Suffice to say, this novel deals with some romance elements that are not usually seen in historical fiction books and it is done very well!

I actually loved the ending because it took me by surprise and wrapped things up smoothly while still leaving it slightly open-ended.

There are only a few points of criticism that I have. For one thing, there are too many names that sound similar. Georgie, George, Georgiana … it was easy for me to get very confused. I don’t think all of these names should have been utilized, and I definitely think the author could have simplified it. The other weird part about this book has to do with the ending and the character responsible for everything. The ending seemed at odds with their behaviour at earlier points in the book. While I liked that the author chose to pin it on this person, I wish that the author had made it make sense with the character’s behaviour early on – or at least not make it so at odds with the end!

Overall, I quite enjoyed the book and the various twists and turns it took. It was a great way for me to get that dose of historical fiction while reading about romance and mystery. I’m giving this a solid 3/5 stars and I’m looking forward to what else the author has in store!

Happy reading ~

The Favourite Sister by Jessica Knoll

Thank you to Simon and Schuster and Edelweiss for this egalley in exchange for my honest review.

When I read Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll, I remember grudgingly liking it. Why grudging? Well, I started reading it and didn’t like the beginning but pushed through anyways with the expectation that it would just get worse …. and then had to admit that it got better. When this book’s premise was released, I was intrigued enough to give it a try and see if my opinion about the author and her writing style had changed. Here is my review:

37832809Summary (Goodreads): Brett and Kelly Courtney are the shining jewels in a New York-based reality TV show called Goal Diggers. One of the most popular shows on American national television, its fiercely competitive cast of five self-made women are defined by their success, beauty and ruthless drive to reach the top by whatever means necessary.

The Courtney sisters’ rivalry goes skin deep despite the blossoming business they have built together that helps disadvantaged women in Morocco. Harbouring bitter jealousies and dark secrets about their manufactured screen lives they’re joined by three other hyper-competitive women who all have their own agendas. And the latest season promises sparks to fly in the quest for even higher ratings.

Vicious backstabbing, scathing social media attacks and finely-tuned scripting draw in the viewing public every week, all orchestrated by the show’s omnipotent producers. But even they don’t know that season 4 will end in murder…


Review: The first thing I’m going to say is that the same thing that happened with Luckiest Girl Alive happened here: I started this book absolutely hating it and then I pushed through and started to like it. But unlike my experience with the first book, this time there was no grudging admittance. I honestly really liked this book.

The story starts off in a bit of a confusing way. There is an interview happening in the present time … and someone is dead. Then the story gets into the past and all the events leading up to it.

The beginning of this story is very slow but there’s a good reason for it. There are 5 members of The Goal Diggers, a reality TV show, and the first part of the story, told from alternating perspectives of 2 of the cast members, highlights their various roles and personalities to cement their characters. It wasn’t the most interesting thing for me to read, especially as the characters waxed on about social issues too much; it started to just be an act of tokenism at that point. However, these were my initial thoughts.

As the story progressed and we got to the halfway point, I realized how necessary it was for the author to follow through with the novel in the way that she did. The rest of the story is all about how the interactions between the women become tense and how their relationships start to disintegrate because of the numerous lies they have accumulated. Their messages and views about female empowerment and sisterhood get twisted and we see a deeper and more realistic view of the issues that were brought up in the first half. The story starts to lose its humorous edge a little and we see the emergence of the thriller.

Now, I say emergence of a thriller with caution. This novel is not a thriller in the typical sense. It has thrills, yes, but it is not fast-paced, does not have a lot of action to it, and is more about uncovering all of the lies and learning to live with them than about figuring out the truth. This is more of a drama. A thriller-ish drama … I’m just going to stop trying to define it.

But it’s good. The author’s writing style and witty sarcasm becomes better and better with every turning page, as we see how the established ideas in the beginning are flipped and broken down. The characters become crazier and their interactions more disturbing. Everyone has ulterior purposes and no one is as good as they seem. And it’s addicting. I could feel this novel tugging at me to get to the bottom, and I gasped aloud quite a few times as the book drew to a close, where the action really ramped up.

I think that this is a novel that is worth pushing through because it reveals a lot about people and the length that someone will go to protect their image. While slow in the beginning, this novel quickly becomes addicting with its drama-filled scenes, and still manages to address some key social issues. I’m giving this book a 4/5 stars!

Happy reading ~

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

I have a penchant for finding disturbing stories. Most of the time, I love the stories despite their gruesome nature. I like the different perspectives that these novels give me about what it means to survive, and how a person can be affected by trauma. It’s also interesting to see how cruel or twisted someone can be. I picked up this book hoping to get a glimpse of all of these things. Unfortunately, I did not. Here is my review:


Synopsis (Goodreads): Turtle Alveston is a survivor. At fourteen, she roams the woods along the northern California coast. The creeks, tide pools, and rocky islands are her haunts and her hiding grounds, and she is known to wander for miles. But while her physical world is expansive, her personal one is small and treacherous: Turtle has grown up isolated since the death of her mother, in the thrall of her tortured and charismatic father, Martin. Her social existence is confined to the middle school (where she fends off the interest of anyone, student or teacher, who might penetrate her shell) and to her life with her father.

Then Turtle meets Jacob, a high-school boy who tells jokes, lives in a big clean house, and looks at Turtle as if she is the sunrise. And for the first time, the larger world begins to come into focus: her life with Martin is neither safe nor sustainable. Motivated by her first experience with real friendship and a teenage crush, Turtle starts to imagine escape, using the very survival skills her father devoted himself to teaching her. The reader tracks Turtle’s escalating acts of physical and emotional courage, and watches, heart in throat, as she struggles to become her own hero–and in the process, becomes ours as well.


Review: Stephen King said this novel was a masterpiece. After reading it, I find myself struggling to see why. I feel like I am one of the few people who did not like this novel but I simply can’t understand what was so great about it.

First of all, the writing was just terrible. There are so many minute details given about every little thing. The conversations, however, are the first. I have yet to meet a single human being talk like that. I am in the world of academia, and not a single professor has ever talked to me the way that Martin, Turtle’s father, talks. I just couldn’t handle the philosophical rants that seemed to never end and were about the same issue. I hated almost all of Turtle’s conversations were just repetitions of curse words; I get it, she hears it all around her, but what is with the obsession of saying c_nt all the time?! It made her seem so much more simplistic than she really was. I was even more bothered when Turtle met the two teenage boys because their conversations and interactions were so unrealistic. It made me wonder if the author had ever actually met teenagers before. First of all, they don’t just talk about aliens all the time or act as if the girl in front of them doesn’t exist. Second of all, they don’t say “dude” and “sick” every minute.

This novel was presented to be a story about how Turtle deals with the abuse she receives from her father and how she survives and finds herself. But as I read, it just felt like the author was trying to exploit the abuse factor. There was no careful handling of the subject matter. It was very crass, and while I can handle difficult topics like sexual abuse and incest, that doesn’t mean it should be handled so indelicately. It left a bad taste in my mouth.

Maybe there was some magnificence to this novel. But the bad dialogue, bad characterization, and careless handling of a serious and sensitive topic made it hard for me to see the good in it. I’m giving this a 1/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

The Night Child by Anna Quinn

Don’t judge me but I selected this book because the cover was so intriguing and pretty. The premise was interesting, too, but I am definitely one of those people that go after books with pretty covers. I had an inkling of what I thought the story would be about … but I was completely taken aback when I started reading it! Here is my review:


Synopsis (Goodreads): Nora Brown teaches high school English and lives a quiet life in Seattle with her husband and six-year-old daughter. But one November day, moments after dismissing her class, a girl’s face appears above the students’ desks — ”a wild numinous face with startling blue eyes, a face floating on top of shapeless drapes of purples and blues where arms and legs should have been. Terror rushes through Nora’s body — the kind of raw terror you feel when there’s no way out, when every cell in your body, your entire body, is on fire — when you think you might die.”

Twenty-four hours later, while on Thanksgiving vacation, the face appears again. Shaken and unsteady, Nora meets with neurologists and eventually, a psychiatrist. As the story progresses, a terrible secret is discovered — a secret that pushes Nora toward an even deeper psychological breakdown.


Review: I don’t know what I was expecting but it certainly wasn’t this! I want to start this review by giving a trigger warning: this novel deals with child abuse and may be disturbing for some readers.

I thought that this novel would be a terrifying read based on the synopsis, but I did not expect it to be as emotionally evocative as it was. This is a book that deals with the way the human mind deals with trauma, and how it protects you from your own memories. This was a dark and gripping story, and you would be hard-pressed to not be affected by the things you read. The author did an absolutely fantastic job of weaving the past and the present together, and illustrating how memories can be distorted. This novel delivers on so many levels, and it took me by surprise from the start. If anything, I would want the story to be a little longer to explore the issues mentioned in the book further. This is a solid 4/5 star book and I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a dark and emotional psychological story (but keep in mind the trigger warning)!

Thank you to NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Happy reading ~

All Things Bright and Strange by James Markert

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis (Goodreads): In the wake of World War I in the small, Southern town of Bellhaven, South Carolina, the town folk believe they’ve found a little slice of heaven in a mysterious chapel in the woods. But they soon realize that evil can come in the most beautiful of forms.

The people of Bellhaven have always looked to Ellsworth Newberry for guidance, but after losing his wife and his future as a professional pitcher, he is moments away from testing his mortality once and for all. Until he finally takes notice of the changes in his town . . . and the cardinals that have returned.

Upon the discovery of a small chapel deep in the Bellhaven woods, healing seems to fall upon the townspeople, bringing peace after several years of mourning. But as they visit the “healing floor” more frequently, the people begin to turn on one another, and the unusually tolerant town becomes anything but.

The cracks between the natural and supernatural begin to widen, and tensions rise. Before the town crumbles, Ellsworth must pull himself from the brink of suicide, overcome his demons, and face the truth of who he was born to be by leading the town into the woods to face the evil threatening Bellhaven.


Review: I went into this novel with absolutely no idea on how I would feel about it. I emerged from it thinking that it was quite an interesting read.

I really liked the premise of this book and the way events unfolded in this town. The story is told entirely from Ellsworth’s point of view, and he is quite a character. I think the author tries really hard to make him complex, but at times, it was a bit forced. Nevertheless, I was intrigued by Ellsworth and really liked him. There were many different characters who were introduced to the story, and it could be quite confusing to keep them all straight. However, all of the characters had backstories and vices that helped the reader make a connection with them. I did think that everyone’s constant positive regard for Ellsworth was a tad overbearing, but it makes sense in terms of the story.

I really liked the way that the story progressed. We start off with the emergence of this chapel, which has always been present, yet the people of this town have been unaware of it. But once they become aware, they cannot help but visit, enticed by the messages it gives them. Soon, however, it becomes apparent that this chapel is not a blessing – rather, it is curse. The frenzy that developed throughout this story was fantastic, and I really enjoyed every minute of the book…. until we got to the final climax. That’s when I felt disappointment. After all this amazing build up and tension and intrigue, the climax felt lackluster.

Even though the ending was not as great as I had hoped, the story itself was interesting and I enjoyed most of it. I wasn’t expecting it to make references to faith (totally missed out that it was labelled as Christian fiction) but the author made it work in the story. I would give this a 3/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

Odd Child Out by Gilly MacMillan

I was a little hesitant to read this novel because I hadn’t enjoyed The Perfect Girl. However, let it never be said that I am prejudiced against an author or their work; I always try to read at least one more book by that author to see whether I can gel with the author’s storytelling style. I was also intrigued because this book has been doing very well and was recommended to me by a bunch of different people. Here is my review:

Synopsis (Goodreads): Best friends Noah Sandler and Abdi Mahad have always been inseparable.  But when Noah is found floating unconscious in Bristol’s Feeder Canal, Abdi can’t–or won’t–tell anyone what happened.

Just back from a mandatory leave following his last case, Detective Jim Clemo is now assigned to look into this unfortunate accident.  But tragedy strikes and what looked like the simple case of a prank gone wrong soon ignites into a public battle.  Noah is British.  Abdi is a Somali refugee.   And social tensions have been rising rapidly in Bristol.  Against this background of fear and fury two families fight for their sons and for the truth.  Neither of them know how far they will have to go, what demons they will have to face, what pain they will have to suffer.

Because the truth hurts.


My review: At first, I struggled with the novel. The story was slow-going in the beginning, even though it takes place after the accident. I didn’t really know where the author wanted to take the story and quite a lot of time was taken to set the stage. While it didn’t make sense then, it certainly does now.

There were quite a few perspectives that this story was written from but one main one was that of Jim Clemo, the detective in charge of the investigation. Apart from his character, we also get to read from Noah’s perspective, Abdi’s family’s perspective, and finally, from Abdi himself. I thought this was a very interesting way to write the story, especially since there was no real order to the rotation of the different voices. I had my favourite voices, of course, but my actual opinion on this technique is split. On the one hand, it allowed me to see the situation from different eyes. However, I also didn’t always feel like I got to understand the characters themselves. It was definitely a unique way to present the story, and in the end, it did work.

I liked most of the characters in the story, regardless of whether their role was positive or negative. However, the one character I really didn’t care for was Jim Clemo. I didn’t think there was much of a personality, and I didn’t really want to learn too much about his side story.

The main story itself was a lot more complex than how it was first portrayed. This isn’t just about culpability and who did what. This was about the struggle to be an immigrant, the struggle of being a part of the life of a sick child. There were issues with the media and the way that it can warp the findings of a case. This novel even showed some insight into the way trauma and PTSD can affect a person’s life in the long-term. Even though I wasn’t able to get into the novel in the beginning, the complexity and depth of all of these issues quickly made me change my mind and I found myself appreciative of the effort the author put into talking about these different topics. By the end of the novel, I was hooked and I found the ending to surpass all my expectations. This novel gets a solid 4/5 stars from me!

Happy reading ~

Only Child by Rhiannon Navin

One of the things that drew me to this book was the number of comparisons it had to Room by Emma Donoghue. I absolutely adored that book. I was wondering if this novel would live up to that comparison…

It most definitely did.

Synopsis (Goodreads): Squeezed into a coat closet with his classmates and teacher, first grader Zach Taylor can hear gunshots ringing through the halls of his school. A gunman has entered the building, taking nineteen lives and irrevocably changing the very fabric of this close-knit community. While Zach’s mother pursues a quest for justice against the shooter’s parents, holding them responsible for their son’s actions, Zach retreats into his super-secret hideout and loses himself in a world of books and art. Armed with his newfound understanding, and with the optimism and stubbornness only a child could have, Zach sets out on a captivating journey towards healing and forgiveness, determined to help the adults in his life rediscover the universal truths of love and compassion needed to pull them through their darkest hours.


I’m still trying to come up with the right words to describe how amazing this novel is. It is absolutely fantastic, and the fact that this came from a debut author is hard to believe.

The novel deals with a difficult topic: gun violence and the loss of an innocent child. The story is masterfully written, told entirely from the perspective of young Zach Taylor. It is his innocent thoughts that we hear, his eyes through which we observe – and yet, we are given the opportunity to see the bigger picture and make the connections that his young mind cannot. There was never a point where I felt that the author was faking the POV of a child; it was just that realistically portrayed! And I really do not think there could have been a better voice from which to tell the story. Zach’s innocence and honesty was the perfect vehicle for the reader to witness a tragedy that no parent ever wants to face.

Zach is such a sweet and wonderful protagonist, that it is easy to connect with him and care for his character. Every emotion that Zach felt was one I felt – the anger, the fear, the anxiety, the sadness. Zach tugged at my heart with every turn of the page. I will gladly admit that this book had me ugly-crying at various points because it was just so emotionally touching.

This book deserves every star I can give. Do yourself a favour and read this book. It is 100% worth it.

Thank you to Penguin Random House and the First to Read program for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading ~