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Review of ‘The Hit List’ by Holly Seddon: 4 stars

Unputdownable, gripping, intense and utterly thrilling. ‘The Hit List’ will have you sitting on the edge of your seat biting your nails with anticipation to learn how the story will unfold. This is a must read for any mystery and physiological thriller lovers in need of something to whisk you away from reality and completely take over your senses. I found myself desperately trying to discover what would happen before the mystery unfolded but it constantly alluded me. Seddon’s cleverly written story gives you enough nuggets of information to make you think you may know where the story is headed but then your thoughts are dashed as she takes the story in a different direction. 

The story follows the widow Marianne, who lost her husband in a bike accident. Lost in grief and wallowing by searching through her late husband, Greg’s belongings. On his laptop she discovers something that will shock her to the core- her own name on a hit list. Throughout the book the author switches between perspectives and we see through the eyes of Marianne, Greg and Sam as the story develops. I really enjoyed being able to learn more about each character through their own voice and how others saw them. This fast paced, addictive thriller tells of the dark web, assassins, morally questionable behaviour and makes you question how far you would go to protect someone that you loved. 

I listened to the audiobook which was narrated by Chris Reilly, Damian Lynch, Perdita Weeks, Stephanie Racine, and Tuppence Middleton. I really enjoyed how each brought their character to life and made an already stellar story shine brighter! 

I want to thank NetGally and Holly Seddon for my audiobook copy in response for an honest review. 

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‘The Castle of Athlin and Dunbayne: A highland story’ by Ann Radcliffe – 4 stars!

Synopsis:

Baron Malcom of Dunbayne Castle kills the Earl of Aithlin and their clans become sworn enemies. A tale of intrigue ensues when the new Earl Osbert, comes of age and is desperate to avenge is fathers’ death. His mother has been attempting to stop this from occurring in order to prevent losing a son as well as a husband. The villain of the piece, Malcom, (you will love to hate him) desires nothing more than to kill Osbert too. Of course there is a romantic element to this tale and Alleyn, a brave highlander falls for a woman far above him, Osbert’s sister Mary. Though Alleyn tries to hide his attraction to Mary it ultimately brings trouble for him. Follow the journey of those who seek revenge, honour, justice, and ultimately love. 

Review:

Do you like thrilling tales bursting with adventure, sword fighting heroes and of course great escapes with both virtuous and villainous characters? Then my friend, you have come to the right place! Radcliffe is the champion of the gothic novel and she establishes credibility for the genre. She is the master of creating suspense and terror and she empowers women within the genre. Here we glimpse elements and themes, which are fully established in her later works such as The Italian or The Mysteries of Udulpho. 

Louis’ book of the month!

Published in 1789, ‘The Castle of Athlin and Dunbayne’ is Radcliffe’s first work and it introduces themes, which will be explored further in her later work. Set during the Middle Ages in the highlands, she uses the Scottish landscape and ruined castles to her advantage to create a rather spectacular tale, which uses descriptions of both the landscape and nature to create the atmosphere of a gothic novel with which we are so familiar with today. Whether it has foundations in revenge or desire, be it the villain or hero, the driving force of this novel is passion. I would highly recommend this action filled, adventure story with its clan feuds, heroism and some pretty fabulous sword fighting and escape attempts. I was so engrossed in the story and felt the characters plights as if they were my own; I was intrigued and entertained throughout! 

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Time flies when you are reading for fun: Celebrating 80 years of Puffin!

As we celebrate 80 years of Puffin I look back on the most memorable books, which have remained favourites beyond my childhood. As a child, my mother let me read her wonderful collection of Puffin books, which she received in the early 1970’s. To this day I can recall the joy and excitement of reading these books together. It was Puffin that nurtured my love of reading and I have been hooked ever since. Below I have compiled a list of my favourites that I would like to share with you.

The Chronicles of Narnia books by C.S. Lewis are indeed a favourite of mine. They were my first glimpse of a fantastical world, which bewitched my young mind and put me under a spell, which I remain under to this day. I was desperate to go to the fictional world of Narnia and meet Aslan, fear great dragons, meet Caspian and have a talking horse just like Bree. These books carved out a love of literature, which will not be quelled. There was a clear favourite, “The Horse and His Boy”. It is a wonderful tale, which follows the boy Shasta and a horse Bree in their quest to save Narnia from the Calormen people who plot against them. From a nostalgic point of view this is a great read because the story is amazing and the adventure is thrilling.  

Continuing with the theme of horses I fell instantly in love with Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty. This incredible book was one of the first books that I genuinely sobbed whilst reading it. Here, we live through the eyes of the most beautiful horse that starts off life in pure bliss with friends and a loving family. When Beauty is forced to move away he realises that, some humans are extremely cruel. He is then passed through various owners. This is a beautiful tale, which teaches the reader to be compassionate towards animals. 

Noel Streatfield’s ‘Ballet Shoes’ tugged on my heartstrings as I became attached to the three adopted girls, Pauline, Petrova and Posy. Their guardian Gum, (Great Uncle Mathew) so used to collecting fossils had turned his hand to orphaned children and then mysteriously disappeared. The girls decide to make names for themselves so, enrol at the Academy of Dance and Stage training in the hope they will be able to support their family. It is a beautiful tale about having courage to strive for their dreams. I remember reading my mothers extremely tattered Puffin book, which was falling apart from endless times it was reread. I would heartily recommend this book to both young and adult readers, it is a true gem and not to be missed!

Frances Hodges Burnett’s The Secret Garden tells the story of a young girl Mary Lennox whose parents die in the cholera epidemic so she moves from India to England to live with her grieving uncle at Mistlethwaite Manor in Yorkshire. Both have had their fair share of misery and seemingly the household is engulfed in gloom and mystery. This story is about forging new friendships and overcoming grief. It is a heart warming read which brings the family together through the beautiful garden, which is lovingly brought back to life along with their own happiness. The wonderful characters in this book grow throughout and mature and become all that is good and learn from their previous vices. 

Having read through my mother’s old Puffin books, I began my own collection. Now I am at the stage were I am buying books for my godson who is a budding Classicist thanks to the Percy Jackson books. Naturally I had to get my own copies first to make sure they were good, and indeed they were. So I set about gifting these books by Rick Riordan, which are genuinely spectacular to any young member of my extended family in the hope that they would one day share my love of Classics. As a Classicist, it is my greatest passion to bring Classics to young people and hopefully inspire them to love the subject. These books are a great way for young readers to get excited about the classical world. I have bought most of his work as presents for younger relatives who have all been hooked by the magical tales of the Ancient World. It is books like this that inspire people to learn more about the history of our wonderful world and the people that inhabited it so long ago. I will be eternally grateful to Riordan for creating these wonderful books and I will continue to recommend them to young readers.

After 80 years Puffin is still spreading its magic and helping children fall in love with reading. Now as we are staying at home more than ever before we need our children to engage with literature and imagine exciting fictional worlds to entertain us in these difficult times. So, I thank you Puffin for continuing your sensational work for 80 years and toast to 80 more!

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Introductions

Hello fellow readers and culture lovers,

My name is Sophie and I am a self proclaimed Ancient History nerd who is completely book mad. I would like to welcome you to the devastatingly erratic writings of someone who would like to spend all their time learning about The Ancient World and reading ALL the books. I will prattle about various genres in the vain hope that someone finds it interesting or, because I enjoy writing! I am a huge animal lover so in-between bookish chat and blogs about the Ancient World, there will also be an array of animals featured who, I enjoy reading with. If anyone actually does read this “Hello to you fellow bookworm or culture lover, I hope you enjoy these thoughts and musings, and good day to you.”

Love Sophie x