Monday 5 July 2021

The Vanishing by Sophia Tobin

The Vanishing
Author: Sophia Tobin
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Pages: 385
Rating: 3.5/5
Blurb: On top of the Yorkshire Moors, in an isolated spot carved out of a barren landscape, lies White Windows, a house of shadows and secrets. Here lives Marcus Twentyman, a hard-drinking but sensitive man, and his sister, the brisk widow, Hester.

When runaway Annaleigh first meets the Twentymans, their offer of employment and lodgings seems a blessing. Only later does she discover the truth. But by then she is already in the middle of a web of darkness and intrigue, where murder seems the only possible means of escape…

Having read both 'The Silversmith's Wife' and 'The Widow's Confession' by Sophia Tobin - and loving them both - my hopes were quite high for The Vanishing. And whilst I didn't enjoy this quite as much as her previous two books it was still incredibly well written and researched and I read it in only one sitting because I was gripped by the story.

The main character, Anna, was likeable but frustrating. Her character development throughout the story was done really well and was understandable. She changed a lot from the sweet and trusting girl she had been to the cynical woman who wanted revenge and I was right there with her at the end - I actually kind of hoped for more on the revenge line but I also understand why she chose to let things develop as they did. And I don't want to go into detail on that because spoilers! The other characters were not as well developed to my mind. Thomas served pretty much solely as a love interest and his character development revolved around Anna. Whilst he had a few strong moments where he stood up for himself - and he was likable - the book would not have been much different without him. Anna's employers - and the two other servants she worked with - were more complex but they, in comparison, did not get as much of a resolution as I would have liked. Particularly Jeanne who, I think, deserved a final confrontation with Anna and Hester who was an interesting character in the beginning but quickly faded towards the end. 

The plot was, as I mentioned, extremely gripping and I was never bored. It also gets very dark very quickly. The first half of the book does an excellent job of building an unsettling atmosphere but the book switches from that to something far darker almost in a page turn and the rest of the book is much faster paced in comparison. Whilst I understood why, the pace change was a little abrupt and I had to reread a few pages in the middle to be sure I was understanding Anna's situation correctly. That said, I was so emotionally engaged in the story that I was sobbing by the end and kept thinking about Anna's story for the rest of the day.

Overall, whilst I did enjoy The Vanishing and it definitely was an impactful story, I wouldn't say it was a favourite and I did prefer Tobin's previous books. If you're looking for an extremely dark historical story - and are prepared to maybe cry - then I definitely recommend it though.

Trigger warnings (spoilers): 
Drugging, captivity, loss of a child, death, rape

Saturday 18 January 2020

Pondathon Sign-Up: Clare

Pondathon: The Quiet Pond's story-driven readathon. Image: Two swords with vines wrapped around it frame the words 'Pondathon', with three little forest sprites sitting on top. One forest sprite has a leaf on its head, the middle has twigs for horns, and the right has a mushroom on its head.

What is the Pondathon?

The Pondathon is a co-operative and story-driven readathon hosted and run by CW from The Quiet Pond. The aim of the Pondathon is to read books and collect points to protect the friends over at The Quiet Pond from the encroaching malevolent forces that threaten our friends in the forest. Have fun participating in the Pondathon readathon by joining one of five teams, each with a unique way to collect points and signing up! You can also follow the story of the Pondathon as it unfolds, and participants can also complete 'side quests' during the readathon to collect extra points. The readathon takes place from January 24th 2020 to March 7th 2020. More information about the readathon can be found here.

Information about Joining the Pondathon

  1. To join the Pondathon, simply sign up anytime between January 18th 2020 to March 5th 2020.
  2. Create a blog post, bookstagram post, booktube video, Twitter thread, or whatever medium you wish, with '#Pondathon' in the title or your tweet. Share the character you have created and your character card!
  3. Link back to this post so that others can find this readathon and join in.
Share your updates on your blog/bookstagram/booktube and social media. You are more than welcome to tag @thequietpond or @artfromafriend on Twitter or Instagram in all your updates! We'd love to see all of the beautiful and awesome characters that you create!

My Pond Character

My Pond Character is called Fliss, and she's as fabulous as she is fearful! Fliss is a fox who is afraid of everything. Even so she is  joining the frontlines against the darkness that threatens the Pond. Fliss is kind and hates conflict but always does what's right. 

Sunday 5 January 2020

Weekly Roundup: 5th January 2020

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted at Caffeinated Book Reviewer, it's a chance to post a recap on the past week, show the books we have received and share what we plan for the coming week. Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Reading Reality and the aim is to show our newest books and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops or downloaded on to their e-reader.


You know how sometimes life just gets away from you? 2019 was the year from hell for Ann and myself (if you follow us on Twitter you'll know some of why) and we've been really bad at blogging (and reading) as a result. But here at the beginning of 2020 I'm feeling hopeful and ready to plunge back into blogging.

Books We Got This Week:

Exit Strategy (Nadia Stafford, #1)Made to Be Broken (Nadia Stafford, #2)Wild Justice (Nadia Stafford, #3)Double Play (Nadia Stafford, #3.5)Perfect Victim (Nadia Stafford #3.6)
A Darkness Absolute (Rockton #2)Chill FactorThe Moscow Deception (The Guardian, #2)SleepwalkerA Cold Dark Place (Cold Justice, #1)

What We Read:


Exit Strategy (Nadia Stafford, #1)Made to Be Broken (Nadia Stafford, #2)Wild Justice (Nadia Stafford, #3)Double Play (Nadia Stafford, #3.5)Perfect Victim (Nadia Stafford #3.6)
The Nadia Stafford Series by Kelley Armstrong: 4 stars, I'm a huge fan of Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series but I rarely venture into her non-paranormal reads which is a shame because as this series proves they're just as good. The romance was about as slow burn as it can get (although I really could've done without Quinn) and I found even the novellas to be compelling, which is rare for me because I usually just get frustrated when they're over too quickly. Nadia was a very compelling character and Jack was great.
A Darkness Absolute (Rockton #2)Chill FactorA Dark Lure (A Dark Lure, #1)
A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong: 4 stars, Continuing with Armstrong, I read the second book in the Rockton series. I enjoyed it even more than the first (which I'll be honest I don't remember much of) and I'm now looking forward to continuing the series when I can!
Chill Factor by Sandra Brown: 3 stars, A weird one because my experience with Sandra Brown's books are strong on romance, weaker on mystery but this was the total opposite. The mystery kept me guessing throughout, the romance felt stale too quickly. Overall compelling.
A Dark Lure by Loreth Anne White: 4 stars, This was a tough one for me. As a survivor I try to be careful which books containing rape and sexual assault I read but this had such good reviews (deservedly so). The details of her kidnapping were sometimes too much for me but the story and the characters were so compelling that I was propelled through in one sitting. 

It might take us a while to get back into the swing of things but right now just taking joy in writing about books again feels incredible! So bear with us and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Monday 10 June 2019

Blog Tour: The Switch Up by Katy Cannon

The Switch Up
Title: The Switch Up
Author: Katy Cannon
Format: Paperback
Source: Received for Review
Rating: 5/5
Drama queen
Fashion guru
Looks like Alice

Allergic to fashion
Looks like Willa

LAX Departure Lounge. Two girls board the same flight to London as complete strangers. When the plane touches down, it’s the beginning of the craziest plan ever. Can Willa and Alice really swap lives for the summer?
Things are going to get complicated..."

After receiving the full series of Geek Girl recently for my birthday in April I was excited and intrigued by the prospect of reading this book for review and I have to tell you that I loved it. As a big fan of this genre reading similar books like Geek Girl or Girl Online, which I have also reviewed, I would definitely recommend this book as it totally lived up to my high expectations.

I loved the way in which the main characters of Alice and Willa were introduced during the beginning of this book, with the character descriptions being done in a way that didn't stop the flow of the book while still allowing me to see the clear differences between the two characters from the very beginning despite their similar appearances. This helped a lot later on in the book, making it easy for me not to become confused, which I find I am sometimes in other books with a similar plot or many characters. This book was easy to follow while still introducing difficult family situations for teenagers that may have family's that differ from the stereotypical normal, giving the readers something to identify with which I love. 

Another thing I loved about this book was the way in which the author elaborated the difference between the two locations in a way that made it easy to distinguish between the two locations of London and Italy easily without having long descriptive paragraphs halting the flow of the book. Overall, I loved the writing of this book as it was relatively simple language for even me, someone with dyslexia, to understand while still being an captivating story that I finished in one sitting.

This book was written in a way that helps show the angst teenagers may feel daily while also helping to show another side of them that the readers would identify with and I loved this as many of the situations written about, are things that teenagers experience daily, getting in trouble for being out late, or making apologies and being given chores or told of for having a messy room. All of this helped to add to the realism of the situation and make it easier for a teenage readership to understand and enjoy the book.

The ending of this book set up the book for the following books in the series and I look forward to seeing where Katy Cannon will take the story of Willa and Alice next. I can't wait for the next book! This is the perfect summer read for everyone and I loved it!

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book, especially to fans of series like Geek Girl or Girl Online as it is a similar genre and you are likely to love it as much as I did. Let me know in the comments below if you read this book and your thoughts, I look forward to hearing from you all.

Wednesday 6 February 2019

Top 5 Nostalgic Ships

The prompt this week is to "discuss the first fictional couples you ever got butterflies over, or couples you used to be really into when you were younger" which is super interesting to me because my taste in ships has completely changed over time! 

1. Katniss and Peeta
The absence of any acceptable ship name aside (seriously think about it) - these two were one of my first ever book ships! And actually is one of those that stood the test of time. I still think Peeta was the best (and only) choice here - I have zero patience for Gale. I mostly enjoyed how different they were and how it complimented their relationship rather than distancing them from each other. Plus they were just cute.

2. Alina and The Darkling
DID NOT stand the test of time. I re-read these recently and mostly just got annoyed with later book Darkling. I still think he is one of the best villains ever and I of course have a book crush on him. But as a ship I no longer see anything there. Not that I like Mal either - I saw someone recently describe him as soggy bread and yes, exactly that. (I'm all about Nikolai now thank you).

3. Harry and Draco
Look the Harry Potter fandom was a weird place way back when. You ever read My Immortal? Cause yikes. Oh now I'm nostalgic for that as well. But in the dark recesses of my teenage mind Harry and Draco made all the sense. I still now, and forever, will maintain that Draco was the product of abusive parenting and had potential to grow (which I hope he did), but he was in no way in a place for a romantic relationship and teen me was weird. Side note though - I will forever believe that Draco had an unrequited crush on Harry and was very confused about it. 
Here are some other genuine ships that I was not into thank god: Hagrid/Hermione, Harry/Dumbledore, Draco/Apple (I mean what?) and of course the ever good Harry/The Floor. Just, what the hell was happening. 

4. Tessa and Will
I remember getting really needlessly worked up over the whole Will vs Jem debate. Now I'm like "why not both" and seriously - why not. There's even a line about them being perfectly fine with her loving both of them so I reckon they'd have been totally down for polyamory. I still love Will best though. Just saying.

5. Percabeth (Percy and Annabeth)
Forever and ever. Literally every relationship in every Riordan book tbh, including the best friendships. But Percabeth are the original and most nostalgic. I love them so much and I've put The House of Hades as my book to represent this because frankly them going through Tartarus was basically one of my favourite book things ever. 

Leave a link or a comment below so I can check out your Top 5's!! 

Monday 4 February 2019

Ann Reviews: A Court of Thorns and Roses Series

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)Title: A Court of Thorns and Roses
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Format: Paperbacks
Source: Purchased
Rating: 5/5
'Feyre's survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price ...

Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre's presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.'

I only recently read this series for the first time during the summer and I immediately fell in love with it. I have now read it about 4 times and would definitely recommend it to you. Kind of annoyed with myself honestly for not reading it after every time Clare would try and recommend it to me. 

One of my favourite things about this book is the main female character who is shown to be so strong and determined in just the first few chapters of the book and you are able to grow to love her more and more as the series continues and as she develops as a character. The main male love interest of this story is how I would imagine a perfect guy could be, he was protective but still let the her do her own thing and knew that she was perfectly capable of protecting herself. However the male love interest in the first book is the kind of man who I really hate, he was so possessive and controlling and just got worse and worse as the series continued doing some not very nice things later on in the series. Its important that this behaviour is shown as toxic as too often "protective" guys are seen as romantic.

The detail and description that went into the world in this series is incredible, I found it so easy to picture the places and the layout of the world and despite its problems throughout the books I would personally love to live in a place anywhere as nice as the fae world described in this series.

I love Sarah J Maas, her writing is amazing and not just in the A Court of Thorns and Roses Series but in her other series also, which I have read and loved almost as much as ACOTAR but not quite. ACOTAR has quickly become one of my favourite series with excellent writing that makes me feel like I am right there with them. My favourite thing about this series is that the description and writing is done in a way that makes me feel more like I am watching a movie than reading a book.

Overall I would definitely recommend you read this book as you will most likely love it, and if you've already read it feel free to comment down below your thoughts on the series or give me any recommendations for something similar I might like, seriously I need something else to read I have reread it so many times I could quote whole sections.

Sunday 3 February 2019

Sunday Post: WE'RE BACK (no really this time)

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted at Caffeinated Book Reviewer, it's a chance to post a recap on the past week, show the books we have received and share what we plan for the coming week. Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Reading Reality and the aim is to show our newest books and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops or downloaded on to their e-reader.

Happy belated New Year everyone!! We have both been on a ridiculously long hiatus for personal reasons.Ann: I have taken a very long time of blogging and at first it was for exams and then some personal stuff happened that its taken me a while to come back from and I am still not 100%. On top of that, I have been having a lot of health problems currently with my spine(Scoliosis) and also my heart but I am coming back to blogging and I am very excited to get back into this! I am sorry I took so much time of but I am now back.
Clare: I have been taking time to focus on my mental health. I was recently diagnosed with PTSD (previously just called it anxiety) and I've finally been getting the right counselling for me which has been working wonders but has also left me permanently drained. Turns out talking in depth about the worst experience of your life is tough who knew huh?
But now we're both back and super excited to start blogging again. I'd like to apologise to all the books and authors and publishers whose reviews have been put on hold whilst I got my shit together! 

Now back to the fun stuff!! 

Books Clare Got This Week:

So obviously since AUGUST (yikes) we've got quite a lot more books! But who has time for that? So here are the books we got in just the last week (it's still a lot for a week)! 

These are all exciting books and I feel sorry for 5 of them because KING OF SCARS IS FINALLY HERE AND I DON'T CARE ABOUT ANYTHING ELSE! It may be my most anticipated book of the year and it may be the most beautiful physical book ever and it may be signed SIGNED. But these other books deserve attention to so...
This Splintered Silence looks kinda scary/fun which is definitely my thing at the moment, Overshare is also signed which is exciting because I love Rose and Rosie and their relationship, Playing for Keeps is the latest book in the Heartbreaker Bay series by Jill Shalvis - the whole series is freaking adorable and I love it, I'll be honest I bought Dragon Pearl primarily because of the cover combined with Rick Riordan Presents but it looks soooo good and A Curse So Dark and Lonely is a Beauty and the Beast retelling and Ann has already tried to steal it from my shelves! 

Next Week: 

  • Ann Reviews: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  • Top 5 Wednesday! 
  • Friday Reads

Wednesday 8 August 2018

The Cactus by Sarah Haywood

35660304Title: The Cactus
Author: Sarah Haywood
Format: Hardback
Source: Received from the publisher for an honest review
Pages: 384
Rating: 5/5

People aren't sure what to make of Susan Green - a prickly independent woman, who has everything just the way she wants it and who certainly has no need for messy emotional relationships.
Family and colleagues find her stand-offish and hard to understand, but Susan makes perfect sense to herself, and that's all she needs.
At forty-five, she thinks her life is perfect, as long as she avoids her feckless brother, Edward - a safe distance away in Birmingham. She has a London flat which is ideal for one; a job that suits her passion for logic; and a personal arrangement providing cultural and other, more intimate, benefits.
Yet suddenly faced with the loss of her mother and, implausibly, with the possibility of becoming a mother herself, Susan's greatest fear is being realised: she is losing control.
When she discovers that her mother's will inexplicably favours her brother, Susan sets out to prove that Edward and his equally feckless friend Rob somehow coerced this dubious outcome. But when problems closer to home become increasingly hard to ignore, she finds help in the most unlikely of places.
This sparkling debut is a breath of fresh air with real heart and a powerful emotional punch. In Susan we find a character as exasperating and delightful as The Rosie Project's Don Tillman. An uncompromising feminist and a fierce fighter, it's a joy to watch her bloom.

This is one of the weirdest reviews to write. Because I loved this book, wholeheartedly. But it's like nothing I've ever read before. And not in a completely-baffling-Alice-down-the-rabbit-hole kinda way. But just, I have never read a character with the perspective Susan had who at the same time felt super relatable. This line from the blurb massively resonates with me and describes my whole experience with the book, "Susan makes perfect sense to herself, and that's all she needs." - you go Susan. You understand and love yourself you perfect little Cactus.

At the beginning of the story I was unsure if I could like Susan. She comes across as very unfeeling and hard but the more I read the more I came to love that about her. And no, this isn't a "oh but she was soft inside the whole time" kind of character progression. Susan's way of seeing the world is so uniquely hers and wonderful and I would never have wanted that to change. Instead I enjoyed watching as she made room for the people in her life, never compromising who she was or her own beliefs, but widening her social circle and allowing herself to believe that sometimes (not often but sometimes) she might not be in the right. This makes the friendships and the romance in the story that bit more affecting, for me at least, because the end result could not have been more perfect or more Susan. 

Plot wise there is a lot of legalese going on that went right over my head. I couldn't challenge a will if I wanted to because I would simply have no idea what I was doing. Susan's situation was one I could really feel for, as much as the reader (often) has to disagree with what she is doing, I could never deny her integrity or her willingness to stand up for what she thought was right. The ultimate reveal of the core of her reasoning was also so touching, in a way I'm sure Susan would not appreciate - I nearly cried, and I just constantly wanted to reach into the book and hug childhood Susan. 

I've mentioned on Sunday Posts previously how much this review kept getting rewritten over and over as I struggled to get across just how much I loved and related to this book. And I still can't. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to explain it. I'm about as different from Susan as it's possible to be, and my life is a polar opposite of hers - and yet the whole way through I completely felt like I understood her. 

Perhaps the real beauty of this story is that it's relatable to everyone. No matter how much, or how little, you have in common with Susan at first glance - you can't help being drawn into her life. And if that isn't enough to convince you to read this then there is a truly, truly hilarious discussion between Susan and the father of her unborn child about visitation rights that I fully lost my mind over. Susan filled me with delight and is hands down my favourite book character of 2018 so far. 

Monday 6 August 2018

Dual Blogger Dual Blogging (Or Am I Going Crazy?)

Back in March I took the massive decision to join my friends over at The Regal Critiques as a co-blogger. Co-blogging has always made sense to me. I need that support! And I massively underestimated how difficult it would be (and rewarding by the way). My blogging output has increased in quality but decreased massively in quantity and at the moment my goal is to find a balance. Meanwhile, I've developed a totally different writing style over at The Regal Critiques than I have here. Both are authentically me and both reflect my thoughts and personality but in such different ways that I have confused myself on occasions! Also - different fonts and post layouts, different schedules. I'm an easily confused gal. 

None of this is by any means a bad thing. Back when I first started blogging my reading took a significant drop. If you look back through my goodreads challenges the time before blogging had me reading frankly ridiculous amounts of books that I can't even comprehend right now. And sometimes, yeah, I miss being able to just zip through books like that. But then I think how much more I enjoy books now - how much I love discussing them with people who love books as much as I do. How much I enjoy just slowly reading a book and then fangirling online about why and how I love it. 

For me this new blogging experience is similar. I sometimes feel like a failure because I'm not posting every day like I did a year ago. But my life has changed since then, my responsibilities have changed and I've opened myself up to new experiences. So as guilty as I feel (and will continue to feel for a while probably) about dividing my time between two blogs I'm slowly coming to realise - I love both blogs, I love both versions of "me" that I express between them. And I love how proud I am of every post I do now. Even if those posts are so very much fewer than they once were.

Being a co-blogger on two blogs is challenging in a million different ways - all of which probably deserve a whole separate post - but it's so much more rewarding and exciting. And hey, me and Ann have now thrown our YouTube channel into the mix (subscribe to Dual Reads if you're interested) so that's three blogs. I'm definitely over-ambitious and probably a little crazy. But I absolutely love it. 

What is the biggest blogging challenge you've taken on and how do you feel about it now? Or what challenge do you want to take on and what's holding you back? 

Friday 3 August 2018

What I Want to Read in August!!

As always when making a TBR there is about a 90% chance that I wont read anything on this list... But I do love making plans and maybe - maybe - this'll be the time I actually stick to those plans? I can hope right??


I'm feeling particularly anxious at the moment so to save myself any added anxiety I'm reading alphabetically this month (or that's the plan anyway). It sounds dumb but ordering everything in my life sometimes helps with making me less anxious? I don't understand it either but so long as it works! Plus some of these have been on my TBR for a while (the Bear and the Nightingale) and I'm excited for all of them! 

If you've read any of these, let me know what you thought of them? And do you have any tactics for choosing your next read or do you just pick whatever interests you in the moment?