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ARC Book Review: Ashes by Christopher De Vinck.

Title: Ashes

Author: Christopher De Vinck

Length: 325 pages

Publisher: Harper Inspire

Synopsis: Belgium, July 1939: Simone Lyon is the daughter of a Belgium national hero, the famous General Joseph Lyon. Her best friend Hava Daniels, is the eldest daughter of a devout Jewish family. Despite growing up in different worlds, they are inseparable. But when, in Spring of 1940, Nazi planes and tanks being bombing Brussels, their resilience and strength are tested. Hava and Simone find themselves caught in the advancing onslaught and are forced to flee. In an emotionally charged race for survival, even the most harrowing horrors cannot break their bonds of love and friendship. The two teenage girls will see their innocence fall, against the ugly backdrop of a war dictating that theirs was a friendship that should never have been.

I’m super thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour for Harper Inspire. You can check out all these fantastic blogs for this book here. You can also check my Instagram, Instagram.com/jthbooks and you can have a chance to win a copy of this book.

We follow Simone, who begins a friendship with Hava and as the war begins we see the two girls fight for each other and the bond they have.

I really did enjoy it. Its one of the finest historical fiction books I’ve read recently, it’s evocative and atmospheric. Everything we want from a good book.

I loved the friendship between Hava and Simone. It was the highlight of the novel. I totally believed in it. I could see why they would fight for each. It was heartbreaking when they got separated. Their friendship was the best thing about this novel, it gave it a centre which it desperately needed because some of the other parts felt a little misplaced for me.

I loved learning about the traditions of the Jewish and religion. It’s not something I’ve come across a lot in these types of historical fiction books and I absolutely loved it. It gave the novel real depth in this area. And also it made me believe in family more and their love for each other more.

But I really did like the ending. It was heartbreaking. Made me realise how much I was involved in the friend mashup. It also get the book true for me, but there’s was part of it that was really sweet. I won’t spoil the ending for you. But it doesn’t disappoint.

I would recommend this book. I’m it was a quick read. I wanted to see how it would conclude. It was good.

Thanks to Harper Insider for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out August 20th.

Until the next review

JTH

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Book Review Blog Tour: The Tuscan Contessa by Dinah Jeffries

Title: The Tuscan Contessa

Author: Dinah Jeffries

Length: 350 pages

Publisher: Penguin

Synopsis: Contessa Sofia de’ Corsi’s peaceful Tuscan home has been upturned by the arrival of German soldiers. Desperate to fight back, she provides shelter, medical aid and any help she can, keeping her efforts secret from husband Lorenzo – who is also passing information to the Allies. When Maxine, an Italian-American working for the resistance, arrives on Sofia’s doorstep, the pair forge an uneasy alliance. Practical, no-nonsense Maxine promised herself never to fall in love. But when she meets a young partisan named Marco, she realises it’s a promise she can’t keep. Before long, the two women find themselves entangled in a dangerous game with the Nazis. Will they be discovered? And will they both be able to save the ones they love?

I’m super thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for this book, here’s the other book bloggers for you to check out there posts.

Dinah Jeffries has done it again. How does she manage to do it? Another fantastic novel. I was hooked from start to finish.

The Tuscan Contessa has a riveting story, following Sofia and Maxine as they both help in the effort to defeat the Nazis in World War Two. The story is full of twist and turns that will keep you turning the pages. It’s a well paced plot that is full of mystery, intrigue and romance.

Here’s what amazes me about Dinahs writing, she always makes me want to go visit these beautiful places. She describes them so wonderfully and richly that just makes me want to visit. But obviously with this book being set during World War Two, things happen and Dinah manages the two beautifully. She really captures the beauty and the brutality.

Sofia and Maxine are two fantastic characters to follow. Dinah has written two strong female characters, who aren’t afraid to be vulnerable and it’s fantastic to read. There’s also a romance that runs throughout the book, that is lovely to read, but filled with tension because of the time the book is set in. It’s such an atmospheric book.

I won’t ruin the ending for you, but it was intense, heartbreaking and so satisfying. It’s built up throughout the whole novel and certainly isn’t a let down. But I’ll let you discover what happens when you read it.

I definitely recommend this book. It’s the perfect book to get lost in, you’ll travel to a different time and place and get totally lost in the story. It’s out now.

Thank you to Penguin for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review.

Until the next review

JTH

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ARC Book Review: Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

Title: Shuggie Bain

Author: Douglas Stuart

Length: 448 pages

Publisher: Picador

Synopsis: It is 1981. Glasgow is dying and good families must grift to survive. Agnes Bain has always expected more from her life. She dreams of greater things: a house with its own front door and a life bought and paid for outright (like her perfect, but false, teeth). But Agnes is abandoned by her philandering husband, and soon she and her three children find themselves trapped in a decimated mining town. As she descends deeper into drink, the children try their best to save her, yet one by one the must abandon her to save themselves. It is her son Shuggie who holds out hope the longest. Shuggie is different. Fastidious and fussy, he shares his mother’s sense of snobbish propriety. The miners’ children pick on him and adults condemn him as not right. But Shuggie believes that if he tries his hardest, he can be normal like the other boys and help his mother escape this hopeless place.

This book was so immersive. I forgot about the outside world when I was reading it. I can’t really think of a higher compliment for a book than that. It’s a story of addiction, survival, love and heartbreak. It’s bleak but so beautiful.

The central theme for the novel is the relationship between Shug and his mother. It was so endearing but so heartbreaking. His protection of her, his willingness to look after her. Even when she was so cruel sometimes. He captures working class estates perfectly and I of course loved the queer element to this novel. There’s a subtly to it that is unbelievably powerful. There was an intensity to this whole novel and I haven’t read a book like that in a long time.

Shuggie Bain is full of Brilliant, brilliant characters. Anges, her addiction problem was heartbreaking. I was willing her to get better. Shug, everytime someone said to him ‘be like other boys’ it made my heart ached. And leek, who just crumbled under his own hurt. They were just all so complex, and intimate. I just felt so connected to them. They felt so real. I know I won’t forget these characters for a long time. Each of them will break your heart in their own way as the fight for the life they want and they life they are desperate to get away from. They are the shining force in this brilliant novel.

This story was taken to another level with the beautiful, powerful writing from Douglas Stuart. He somehow manages to capture an intimate relationship between mother and son, and capture the feeling of a place and time and blend them all together seamlessly. His writing has such depth. The descriptions of people and place are so good.It’s brilliant writing. It really is.

The ending, I cried. I had to. I don’t want to say to much a ruin it. It was heartbreaking, yet there was this sense of freedom. I don’t even know how to explain it. You’ll just have to read it for yourself and find out.

This book has just been shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2020 and I’m not surprised at all. It’s a powerful book.

I can’t recommend this book enough. I have a feeling you’ll be seeing a lot of this book around. It’s going to be on a lot of people tbr piles and I don’t blame them. It’s just that good. I see a few prizes in the future for this book.

Thanks to Picador for a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out August 6th.

Until the next review

JTH

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July Wrap Up

Ahhh July, I want to thank you because for me you’ve been a good reading month. You’ll notice there was no June wrap up, that’s because I didn’t read a single book in June. But thankfully I came back strong in July. To be fair, even reading one book would’ve been an improvement but let’s not dwell on the negative.

I read some fantastic books in July. I found a new favourite. I read diversely, I read to learn and all in all it was a great reading month. I also returned to work after lockdown ended here in the UK, so I was definitely looking for an escape.

So let’s talk about the books shall we?

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. This should be required reading. I can’t explain how much I loved this book. As a member of the queer community this book made me feel seen. Please read this book if you haven’t. It’s out now.

The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune. I really enjoyed this one. More than I thought I would. I did find it a little tedious at the beginning but I grew to love it. And the characters. There’s a sequel which I can’t wait to read so that’s always a good sign. This one is out.

Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron. This one was good, but there was something missing from it that would’ve made it great. I don’t know if it was the plot or the pacing. Or maybe the romance. But it was good and definitely worth a read. It’s out in the Uk August 14th.

Who They Was by Gabriel Krauze. I can honestly say I’ve never read anything like this. It was so immersive and brutal. It’s truly a unique novel. I can honestly say I’ll never forget this book. It’s also just been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. It’s out in September.

The Black Kids by Christine Hammonds Reed. Damn this book was good. This one of those books that you get wrapped up in and learn something from. So good. So important. I loved it. It’s out in August.

Girl in the Walls by A.J. Gnuse. Oh this was so good. At times terrifying and heartbreaking, it really was a captivating novel. I couldn’t turn the last few pages fast enough. It’s not out till March 2021 but definitely keep an eye out for this one.

That’s it for this month. I definitely didn’t read as many books as I usually do, but it was nice to be reading again. And so many of the books were excellent. Truly excellent. It’s was quality over quantity this month and I’m ok with that.

I hope you had a good reading month.

Until the next review

JTH

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Book Review: ‘Girl, woman, other’ By Bernadine Evaristo

Title: Girl, Woman, Other

Author: Bernadine Evaristo

Length: 453 pages

Publisher: Penguin Books

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This novel (like many people, I’m sure) was bought to my attention because of the Booker Prize, so I decided to pick up a copy.

Synopsis: This is Britain as you’ve never read it. This is Britain as it has never been told. From the top of the country to the bottom, across more than a century of change and growth and struggle and life, Girl, Woman, Other follows twelve very different characters on an entwined journey of discovery. It is future, it is past. It is fiction, it is history. It is a novel about who we are now.

Like I said, this book won The Booker Prize (along with Margaret Atwood for ‘The Testaments’) and that’s how it was brought to my attention, and I’m a sucker for a prize winner. I’ll be forever grateful to the Booker Prize for bringing this to my attention, I fear it would’ve passed me by otherwise.

I can’t explain how much I loved this book, but I guess I’ve got to try and explain otherwise this wouldn’t be much of a blog post.

It’s told through the perspectives of 12 womxn. Each character gets their own chapter and I’m amazed at how Bernadine has crafted the story so cohesively. Each one is full of heart, love, depth. You learn so much about these characters in the chapters, you really come to care for them. It’s a glimpse into modern day Britain through the eyes of these magnificent characters.

What’s really great about this book is how Bernadine connects them all. It’s genius. It’s so subtle. Sometimes they’re best friends, sometime student/teacher, sometimes employee/employer. It really combines the novel as a whole. It gives it a wonderful fluidity.

Full of powerful messages told through exquisite, impactful prose, the stories resonate because they are basically a glimpse into each characters soul. It’s one of those books that I read slowly, carefully. Mainly because I didn’t want it to end, but also because I didn’t want to miss a single word. It’s the kind of book that captures your heart.

‘Girl, Woman, Other’ is a book I can’t forget. I look back on it and smile. If feels like Bernadine has written a love letter to Black womxn, to Britain, and the human race.

As soon as I read it I knew there would be no doubt in my mind that this will be in my Top 10 books of the year, to be honest it’s probably one of new favourites of all time. This book has a special quality that I can’t put my finger on. My review will never be able to do it justice.

I recommend this book to everyone. It’s a must read. I read it a while ago and I still think of it. In fact I think I’m due a reread to relive some of the magic. I also own two copies of this book, that’s how much I love it.

Please know there are other reviews out there that will do this book the justice it deserves. I also need to buy everything else Bernardine has written.

I seriously can not recommend this book enough. There is just something about it. Do yourself a favour and read it, you will not regret it. It’s out now.

Until the next review

JTH

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ARC Book Review: The Intoxicating Mr Lavelle by Neil Blackmore

Title: The Intoxicating Mr Lavelle

Author: Neil Blackmore

Length: 320 pages

Publisher: Penguin

Synopsis: When Benjamin and Edgar Bowen embark on a Grand Tour of Europe, they are ready to meet people of Quality. They have trunks full of powdered silver wigs and matching wigs, a hunger to experience the architectural wonders of Ancient Rome, and an ability to quote Voltaire (at length). They will make connections and establish themselves in high society, just as their mother had planned. But it soon becomes apparent that their suits are not quite the right shade of grey, their smiles are to ready, their appreciation of the arts ridiculous. Class, they learn, is not something that can be studied. Benjamin‘s real education become when he meets Horace Lavelle. Beautiful, charismatic, seductive, Lavelle delights in skewering the pretensions and prejudices of their milieu. He consumes Benjamin’s every thought. Love can transform a person. Can it save them?

In ‘The Intoxicating Mr Levelle’ we follow twin brothers Edgar and Benjamin as the begin their Grand Tour of Europe ready to meet the elite and begin the rest of their lives.

My expectations for this book were high, and ultimately it failed to live up to them. For a while I thought it was going to meet them, I thought it might be the queer historical fiction novel I’ve been waiting a long time for. But unfortunately it wasn’t.

Now, don’t get me wrong I did enjoy the book, it was good. There was much to enjoy. It had some fantastic characters (not all), i loved the Grand Tour aspect, I loved the relationship between the brothers.

I loved the period of history it was set in. Loved it, I’ve been waiting for a queer book in this setting for a long time. I loved all the details, they added some much to this novel. The clothing, the places I really did enjoy this aspect.

Now the romance, it kind of feels like the whole novel depends on it to work and for me it just didn’t work. I absolutely loved fun element to the romance, and the sex scenes were good. I think it’s always a good thing when queer love is done well in book but probably of the actual romance was just a bit off because Lavelle treated Benjamin like shit and somehow Benjamin was besotted with him. I know Lavelle showed him a new side to himself and a different way to live but he didn’t have to be a dick while doing.

I absolutely hate Lavelle. Hated him. I get what author was tiring to do, but it didn’t work for me. I couldn’t have put up with him for two seconds. I think he needed to be likeable for it to work and he wasn’t. I liked the message that Lavelle brings to the book, just not the character. I couldn’t understand why Benjamin would be in love with him.

I would recommend this book. It was a bit of fun, and I’m sure some of you would even like Lavelle. It was a quick read too. But when I remember this book, I just remember being annoyed by it. So make of that what you will.

Thanks to Penguin Random House for a copy of this book in exchange for a honest, unbiased review. It’s out August 13th. Out in EBook now.

Until the next review

JTH

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ARC Book Review: Scabby Queen by Kirstin Innes

Title: Scabby Queen

Author: Kirstin Innes

Length: 400 pages

Publisher: 4th Estate Books

Synopsis: Three days before her fifty-first birthday, Clio Campbell – one-hot-wonder, political activist, life long-love and one-night stand – kills herself in her friend Ruth’s spare bedroom. And, as practical as she is, Ruth doesn’t know what to do. Or how to feel. Because knowing and loving Clio was never straight forward. To Neil, she was his great unrequited love. He’d known it since their days on the picket lines as teenagers. Now she’s a sentence in his email inbox: Remember me well. The media had loved her as a sexy young starlet, but laughed her off as a ranting spinster as she aged. But with the news of her suicide, Clio Campbell is transformed into a posthumous heroine for politically chaotic times. As word spreads of what Clio has done, half a century of memories, of pain and of joy are wrenched to the surface. Those who loved her, those who hated her, and those that felt both ways at once, are forced to ask one question: Who was Clio Campbell?

I absolutely loved the premise of this book. It was interesting and different, I’ve never read anything like it anyway.

I loved how you got to know every characters connection to Clio and also more about their life. With some of the characters she had intense relationships with, some she used to know and some she met for a day. It kept the story interesting and was such a great way to weave it together. They’ve all got such fascinating stories, especially ‘Sammi’s’, I was so engrossed in this one. It could’ve been a book all on its own.

It was full of fantastic characters, with Clio being the main one. She was so layered and complex. I’m not sure if I particularly liked her, but I don’t think you needed to. You could feel her stubbornness and vulnerability. I always got the sense that she didn’t quite know who she was, so we as the reader could never be sure and it made for fantastic reading. She was just so real. Not many authors manage to write characters as real as Clio, but Kirstin Innes has done it. I read this book a while ago, and I can say that I haven’t forgotten Clio and you won’t either.

Although though this book deals with heavy issues, such a drugs, death, politics and suicide. It was a quick read. It’s just got so many layers to keep you interested, that you never want to put it down. It’s also got a lot of heart and it’s got something to say and I always like that in a book.

Kirstin does such a fantastic job writing all these different characters and giving them there own voice. I can find books with this many perspectives in to be a bit tedious but it didn’t happen with this book. I also enjoyed the way some of them connected. Kirstin has written a book that it is totally immersive. If you’re like me you’ll get totally wrapped up in Clio’s story.

I really do recommend this book. It’s a fantastic with great storytelling and brilliant characters.

Thank you to 4th Estate Books for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out July 23rd.

Until the next review

JTH

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ARC Book Review: Tell Me How It Ends by V.B. Grey

Title: Tell Me How It Ends

Author: V.B. Grey

Length: 368 pages

Publisher: Quercus

Synopsis: Delia Maxwell is an international singing sensation, an icon of 1950s glamour who is still riding high in the new 60s scene. Adored by millions, all men want to be with her, all women want to be her. But one women wants it a little too much. Lily Brooks has watched her all her life, studying her music and on-stage mannerisms. Now she has a dream job as Delias assistant – but is there more to her attachment than an admiring fan. Private Investigator Frank is beginning to wonder. As Lily steps into the spotlight, and Delia encourages her ambitious protégée, Franks suspicion of Lily’s ulterior motives increase. But are his own feelings for Delia clouding his judgement? The truth is something far darker; the shocking result of years of pain and rage, rooted in Europe’s darkest hour. If Delia thought she had put her darkest hour behind her, she had better start watching her back.

I’m thrilled to be taking part in the social media blast for this wonderful book. All these wonderful book bloggers and bookstagrammers are taking part so make sure you check out those posts.

This was just one of those books that as soon as I started reading it, I knew I was going to love it. The setting, the story was just brilliant. It was captivating from start to finish. It had a certain charm to it, that V. B. Grey captures perfectly.

The first thing I’m going to talk about is when the book was set. It’s set in the late Fifties/early 60s and all it’s all about the music and film industry and it was delightful. It just had that old glamour feel to the book which made it so enjoyable. It’s full of details and facts about this time in the industry and it just made the novel for me. It really did.

This book is full of fantastic characters. I’m not sure I’ve ever met a nicer character than Delia. I wanted her to succeed, I wanted to be happy, I wanted her to be the big star she was and deserves to be. Even Lily, was the sort of villain of the book, wasn’t unlikable. You understood her reasoning, and then when bad things happen for her I also wanted her to succeed.

The book does get a little deeper when Delia past is revealed and Lily’s reasons why she’s doing what she’s doing, but I’m not going to go into too much detail was I don’t want to spoil it for you. But it gives the story real depth and backbone.

Overall, I would recommend this book. It’s a brilliant throwback to a time gone by, that’s full of mystery, intrigue and some fantastic characters.

Thank you to Ella at Quercus books for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out July 9th.

Until the next review

JTH

blog, book blog, book blogger, book bloggers, book review, books, bookstagram, gay, historical fiction, lgbt, queer, review, thriller, Uncategorised, ya, young adult

May Wrap Up

I’m posting my May Wrap up now, this is because I haven’t read a book throughout June. I wish I could say this wasn’t true but my mental health took a bad turn and I just couldn’t pick up a book.

So, in May I many to read twelve books. That’s not bad, compared to June it’s fantastic but let’s hope I can start reading again in July.

Let’s talk about these books shall we?

A Room With A View by E.M Foresster. This classic so not my usual kind of book, but a friend suggested it so I thought I’d give it a go. And I really enjoyed it. Especially the end. A short and sweet novel with fantastic characters.

The Hunted by Gabriel… This is a horror, so this again is not my usual type of book, but I actually really enjoyed it. It was genuinely creepy. Full of suspense and action. It would make the perfect film. This one is out August 6th

Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore. This was another good book, full of some fantastic characters but I was left wanting a little more at the end. But it was really good. It’s out on June 16th.

Fall Out by C.G.Moore. I could feel this book trying so hard, but it just didn’t do it for me overall. There were some parts that I thought were handled well, but unfortunately it most of it wasn’t great. It’s out June 16th.

True Story by Kate Reed Petty. I really enjoyed this one, it started off fantastically. I was instantly intrigued and it was dealing with a difficult subject, but it definitely lost it for me towards the end. It became a bit silly almost, but it was enjoyable. It’s out June 11th.

Boy Queen by George Lester. Yaaaaaassss, this book was fantastic. I really, really loved this one. It was a great queer book, that I can’t recommend enough. A great story, great characters. I loved it. It’s out August 6th.

All Of My Friends Are Rich by Michael Sarais. Another fantastic book, this one is filthy, fun but packs an important message, that comes across in a great way. I highly recommend this one. A brilliant own voices novel. It’s out June 16th.

Tell Me How It Ends by V.B. Grey. I really enjoyed this one, I loved the period of time it was setting in. It just has that old Hollywood glamour. It had great characters and it was an enjoyable, easy read. It’s out July 9th.

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart. Took me a little while to get into this one, but I’m so glad I stuck with it. It was heartbreaking in the end, with a character I don’t think I’ll ever forget. I loved it.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins. I had such high hopes, but I unfortunately was disappointed. The ending was strange, the whole book was strange, and a bit dull. This is a hard one for me to take. It’s out now.

The Great Godden by Meg Rosoff. I really enjoyed this book, it was so powerful but had such a subtly too it that I haven’t read before. Full of fantastic characters and interesting dynamics, you definitely don’t want to miss this one. It’s out in July.

The Tuscan Contessa by Dinah Jefferies. I’m a huge fan of Dinah’s and I really enjoyed this book. Full of mystery and intrigue. Fantastic characters and a great historical setting. It was just a great book. It’s out July 23rd.

These are the books, I hope you’ve read some fantastic books in this time.

Until the next review

JTH

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Book Review: Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore.

Title: Valentine

Author: Elizabeth Wetmore

Length: 320 pages

Publisher: 4th Estate books

Synopsis: Mary Rose Whitehead isn’t looking for trouble – but when it shows up at her front door, she finds she can’t turn away. Corinne Shepherd, newly widowed, wants nothing more than to mind her own business, and for everyone else to mind theirs. But when the town she has spent years rebelling against closes ranks she realises she is going to have to take a side. Debra Ann is motherless and lonely and in need of a friend. But in a place like Odessa, Texas, choosing who to trust is a dangerous game. Gloria Ramírez, fourteen years old and out of her depth, survives the brutality of one man only to face the indifferences and prejudices of many. When justice is as slippery as oil, and kindness becomes a hazardous act, sometimes courage is all we have to keep us alive.

This is an incredibly powerful novel, with all the characters connecting around Glory, who has been attacked and turns up at the nearest house, after fighting back fleeing for her life.

Valentine is told through the perspectives of many characters, and it works perfectly. Wetmore weaves the story through all these perspectives and it elevates this story to another level. There was maybe one perspective that didn’t need to be there, it didn’t diminish the story in anyway, but i found myself wanting to skip it.

Each perspectives also reveals how a character is dealing with their own issues, as well as the effect the crime is having on the town. Mary Rose, who is answers the door to Glory and Corrine who just wants to be left alone to grieve her husband, are two of the standouts for me.

You can tell this novel is building to something, and I thought it would be the trial for Glory’s case, which it dealt with, but it went beyond what I was expecting and I found myself not being able to turn the pages fast enough. I’m not going to give anything away, or all the perspectives but it all came together so well.

Wetmore has created some fantastic characters that are real and heartfelt. You’ll root for them. Wetmore also captures the injustice and racism in a small town perfectly. This book at times will make your blood boil. This is a debut novel and it’s fantastic how much heart Elizabeth has managed to include.

I also can’t think of another novel that finishes so well, yet left me with some many questions. Some of the story was wrapped, but I wanted to know more about the characters I’d come to care for. It was a satisfying ending in many ways, but I can’t deny it left me wanting more.

I would definitely recommend this book, it’s raw and impactful. I think it’s a book you won’t forget for a while after reading it. It has something to say, in the many layers of this book.

Thank you to 4th Estate Books for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out now.

Until the next review

JTH