Posts Tagged ‘Audiobook’

Drawing With Light

Julia Green
drawing with lightKat and Emily have grown up without their mother for almost as long as they can remember. And now Dad is with Cassy and they all muddle along together well enough – even though they are living in a cramped caravan while their new house is being renovated. Then Cassy and Dad tell them that Cassy is pregnant, and everything seems to shift. Emily feels a new urge to find her own mother. How could she have left them the way she did? Never writing to them? Not communicating with them? And as Emily begins her search, not knowing what she will find, she is at the same time embarking on a new relationship of her own, that of her romance with Seb. This is an evocative and finely drawn novel about family relationships, in particular that of mother and daughter, and the shifting emotions of a teenager trying to make sense of her family and her world.

What were your initial thoughts on the book?
Having read Bringing the Summer by Julie Green and quite enjoying it, I decided that I would give another of her books a try so when I saw Drawing the Light in audiobook format at the library, I instantly took it out. The story is very easy to get into and I found it to be quite interesting and entertaining. The narrator, Julia Green herself, had a very melodic voice that was easy to listen to and helped to make the story more enjoyable.

What was your favourite aspect?
One of my favourite things, by far, about this book was the beautiful, almost lyrical, writing. Julia Green depicted moments and scenes in her book very well and made it really easy to both picture and feel. There was such an atmosphere to the writing. I don’t know if this was enhanced by the audiobook or not but I truly loved how it made me feel throughout. I will definitely be reading more books by Julia in the future as I just love her writing style so much.

Who was your favourite character and why?
I swear I say this every time but my favourite character was the main protagonist, Emily. Her journey being the main focus of the story helped to make her an interesting and intriguing character. Emily is a curious person, she isn’t sure of herself but wants to be. She’s surrounded by people who seem to know what they want and it makes her feel a little lost at times. Another reason Emily is my favourite is because she was the strongest character. I found the minor characters to be a little irritating at times and I especially disliked her sister. But Emily more than makes up for them.

Would you recommend this book?
I think that if you’re looking for a beautiful, lovely story then I would recommend this book. However, I did have a few problems with the story, such as frustrating characters and moving too fast at the end, so I wouldn’t recommend it to someone who wants a deep emotional read that could change their lives. But I also think it is totally okay that this book isn’t completely life-changing. I like that this book was a simple and easy read that you can just dive into. It’s perfect as a lighthearted book to make you feel good about yourself and life in general.

Summarize in one sentence. (Verdict)
Drawing the Light is a lovely, interesting read about a girl who is finding herself.

Publisher: Bloomsbury UK
Publication Date: March 2010
Format: Audiobook
Duration: 5hrs 45mins
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
Age: YA
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: None

Reviewed by Faye

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Rainbow Rowell and Rebecca Lowman (narrator)
landlineGeorgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems besides the point now.
Maybe that was always besides the point.
Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.
When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.
That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .
Is that what she’s supposed to do?
Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

What were your overall thoughts on the book?
Rainbow Rowell is an author I have enjoyed reading before. After finishing Fangirl, it quickly became one of my favourite books ever. Thus, going into Landline I was both excited and nervous, for I did not want to be disappointed by this amazing author. But, once again, Rainbow has written a superb book that I just fell in love with. It is super cute, has the perfect amount of romance – without unnecessary sex scenes! – and is just written so well. I was enraptured by this story and while there were a few issues I had with it – where was the rest of it? – I still enjoyed every minute of reading it!

What was your favourite aspect of the book?
The magical feel to it. This book reminded me a lot of Celia Ahern’s books, (which I love!), as they are contemporaries but also have a sparkle of magic to them, which Landline did as well. It really helped to make this book really cute and just a great read that I truly loved. It was a fantastic way to show Georgie’s life and her relationship with Neal. All I can really say is give me more books like this!

Who was your favourite character and why?
Georgie, by far, was the best character. As the protagonist this probably isn’t that surprising but I just really loved everything about her. She’s so hard-working, emotional, focused and human, that it is impossible not to love her. This book doesn’t paint her in the best light. She’s made mistakes and we see them and I found that so great about this book. She is a real character dealing with real problems and you can’t help but sympathise with her and want to help her.

What did you think of the audiobook narrator?
Loved her! Seriously! Her voice was really easy to listen to with a soothing quality to it. I could probably listen to her forever! She also managed to distinguish between different characters quite well as well, which really helped! I would definitely listen to more books by her, no matter what book she was reading!

Would you recommend this book?
Definitely! Over and over again! It is a lovely light-hearted read that I am certain contemp adult readers would really enjoy. It does have some emotional moments but essentially it is a book that looks at love and relationships and shows how amazing (and magical) it can all be. Especially when it’s right. (Of course, that doesn’t mean we don’t have to still work at it!) So, if you’re looking for a truly romantic book, look no further.

Summarize in one sentence. (Verdict).
An incredibly cute romantic story that will make you feel a whirl of emotions before settling on eventual happiness. A must read.

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: MacMillan Audio
Publication Date: July 2014
Format: Audiobook
Length: 9hrs 6mins
Genre: Contemporary romance, magical realism
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Book Expo America
Challenge: None

To celebrate Faye joining the Big Book Little Book Team we are giving away one copy of Landline by Rainbow Rowell( Audiobook CD’s) to one lucky UK reader ( UK postal addresses only).
Winners will be notified by email. If no response is received within 48hrs of notification email BBLB reserve the right to select a new recipient.

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A G Howard and Rebecca Gibel (Narrator)

splintered audiobookThis stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.
When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

Puberty is a difficult time for any girl, your body is changing, you are under the influence of raging hormones and plagued by acne, bloating, cramps, the voices of bugs and plants…. Nope, me neither. For Alyssa, her transition into womanhood also heralds the onset of her families curse. Ever since the Alice Liddel scrabbled out of that rabbit hole her female decendents have be stricken with serious mental health problems and fixations with Wonderland.

Having grown up witnessing her mothers descent in to madness and her resulting treatment within an asylum, Alyssa has learnt to disguise her anxiety about her cruel birthright and ignore the incessant voices. But a shocking incident at the asylum forces Alyssa to reconsider everything she thought she knew about her mothers condition, and instead of hiding from her heritage, Alyssa actively seeks out answers

From the very first paragraph we learn that Alyssa is no wall flower, no bumbling ditzy girl next door. She is fierce, strong, and in the words of her father, level headed and together. Taking creative revenge on her multi-limbed and be-winged tormentors Alyssa isn’t one for sit around bemoaning the hand she has been dealt, hoping that someone will save her. Instead she takes action, throwing herself down the rabbit hole to face her fears and save her family.

It’s not unusual for a YA book to suffer from a glut of love interests, sparking many a team X verses team Y debate, with each group zealously defending their selected beau. Many times I have found myself rooting for a particular outcome or a particular coupling. With Splintered A G Howard has me completely torn, with no clear choice.

On the surface these men couldn’t be any more different in appearance, manners and temperament. Scratch the surface however and our good boy and bad have much more in common than initial appearances would lead us to believe. Both have dark pasts, history with Alyssa, and both see and accept Alyssa for who she truly is, even before she recognises it herself. They even share the same almost paternalistic, over protectiveness of Alyssa, although the motivation and the manifestation of this fault is uniquely their own.

I adored how A G Howard took a world familiar to many of us, and didn’t so much re-imagine the story but create a spin off series to complement the original. I loved layering my experience of Splintered over my knowledge of the original Alice story. Comparing my childhood memories of the books and Disney movie with the naive and innocent recollections of a traumatized young Alice Liddel. Then discovering, along with Alyssa, the darker, uglier truth of Wonderland and its inhabitants. Familiar and yet unique, I couldn’t help listening to just one more chapter, anxious to discover where Howard would take her story next, never foreseeing where the next twist or turn would redirect us.

The record quality was consistent with no skipping, repeats or weird changes in tone or volume. Narrator Rebecca Gibel did a fantastic job bringing the characters to life, capturing the creepiness and otherworldliness of the many supporting characters and performing the main characters consistently, each clearly defined by a unique voice, allowing the conversations to be followed without confusion. I particularly enjoyed the Billy Idol like British accent she created for Morpheus, it certainly added to his mischievous bad boy persona.

Verdict: A book as captivating as its stunning cover.

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Audiogo
Publication Date: May 2013
Format: Audiobook (unabridged)
Duration: 11 hrs 20mins
Genre: speculative fiction, fantasy
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: Debut Author

The Hardback of Splintered was published in January 2013 by Amulet Books

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Jennifer Rush and Casey Holloway (Narrator)
AlteredWhen you can’t trust yourself, who can you believe?
Everything about Anna’s life is a secret. Her father works for the Branch at the helm of its latest project: monitoring and administering treatments to the four genetically altered boys in the lab below their farmhouse. There’s Nick, Cas, Trev . . . and Sam, who’s stolen Anna’s heart. When the Branch decides it’s time to take the boys, Sam stages an escape, killing the agents sent to retrieve them.
Anna is torn between following Sam or staying behind in the safety of her everyday life. But her father pushes her to flee, making Sam promise to keep her away from the Branch, at all costs. There’s just one problem. Sam and the boys don’t remember anything before living in the lab—not even their true identities.
Now on the run, Anna soon discovers that she and Sam are connected in more ways than either of them expected. And if they’re both going to survive, they must piece together the clues of their past before the Branch catches up to them and steals it all away.

I first came across Altered over the summer on a Waiting on Wednesday post written by fellow UK book blogger Lynsey (read her fantastic blog, Narratively Speaking here). The synopsis immediately captured my attention and I added Altered to my 2013 wish list. To be honest I forgot all about the book until perusing iTunes for my latest audiobook selection the striking cover caught my attention and tugged at my memory. Realising that I’d come across one of my wish list reads on audiobook, and that it was available almost two months before the UK hardback release, I immediately downloaded this intriguing debut.

Not only is the cover striking enough remind me of my intention to read Altered, almost five months after my initial interest, but it also represents the book perfectly. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the cover features a beautiful male torso but beyond the eye candy (some ladies like abs, I am definitely a back girl!), the positioning of “Sam” within the cover, facing away with his face only partially visible, hints and the mysterious nature of his character. The branches, which cover the majority of the cover, are representative of the tattoo which covers the majority of Sam’s back and plays a pivotal role in the storyline and the uncovering of Sam’s earlier life. Even the disjointed lettering, represents the Branch’s manipulation, the incompleteness of the characters through the loss of their memories and the puzzle the group will need to piece together.

I can’t go any further without confessing that I actually disliked the reader of this audiobook. I found her voice irritating with its unnatural, robotic like cadence. However that didn’t stop me being totally absorbed in the storyline and finishing it in less than 48hrs – the book is just that good.

Fully engaged from the very off by the intriguing set up described in the synopsis, I couldn’t wait to find out just why Anna’s dad had four boys in the basement and what plans the sinister sounding “Branch” had in store for them. The adrenaline fuelled cat and mouse chase, the unraveling of the characters mysterious past, unanticipated twists and a fledgling romance ensured that my attention was held until the very last second.

I enjoyed meeting all of Rush’s characters, not a difficult task when presented with four super hot, intelligent and protective boys, each with their own distinctive characters, but Anna was by far my favorite.

Initially unsure if we would get along, Anna appeared to be either especially naive or self-serving, never truly questioning the boys captivity and only considering their freedom in relation to her own romantic fantasies of Sam. As the story progressed I realised that home schooled and socially isolated Anna was just as much a prisoner of the lab as the boys. Finally free of the farmhouse and flung out in to the world, Anna’s character development truly begins.

Although I very much enjoyed the sci-fi elements of Altered, it was Anna’s naturalness and realism of reactions, which made the book for me. I began to bond with her character when her eyes are finally opened and she is horrified to discover just what the boys are truly capable of, she doesn’t just unquestioningly follow her crush’s pretty back out of the lab and away from the only life she has ever known. I loved that although physically inferior to these paragons of GM perfection, she determinedly holds her own, winded and sweaty, fighting along side them and running ten paces behind them.

The first of a series, I steeled myself for the inevitable agonizing, cliffhanger, but it never materialised. Instead, to my immense relief and satisfaction, Rush brought the story to a close beautifully, tying up this first installment, while leaving me keen to learn more about the sinister activities of the Branch , and spend more time with Anna and the boys.

Verdict: A fabulous, fast paced debut. I can’t wait for book two, although I think that I will pass on the audiobook in favor of pre-ordering the hardback.

The UK hardback of Altered will be published on the 28th of February by Little Brown Young Readers.

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Hachette Audio/
Publication Date: January 2013
Format: Audiobook
Pages: 7hrs 58 mins
Genre: Sci Fi, Mystery
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: Debut Author
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The Raven Boys

Maggie Stiefvater and Will Patton (Narrator)
There are only two reasons a nonseer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love… or you killed him.”
It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive. Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them – not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her. His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all – family money, good looks, devoted friends – but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.
For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.
From Maggie Stiefvater, the best-selling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.

It’s not easy growing up the only non-psychic in a house of seers. While she isn’t envious of her family’s ability to predict peoples futures, including their deaths, Blue can’t help but wish that her ability was more interesting than magnifying the gifts of others, that for once she could experience something “other”, or discover something no one else has before.

All too soon, Blue gets her wish. For the first time, Blue sees a spirit on the corpse road. This can mean only one thing, that the boy will die within twelve months, and that the young man is her true love. It appears that the prophecy Blue has heard all her life is about to come to fruition. If Blue kisses her true love, he will die.

If the concepts of true love seemed almost abstract to Blue before, it seems impossible now. Impossible that she would fall in love with a Raven Boy, a student of the elitist private school, Aglionby Academy. Her first impressions of Gansey certainly don’t contradict her long held belief that Raven Boys are Bastards. Two things conspire against Blue and her perceptions. The first is her attraction to Gansey’s friend Adam who, with his frayed sweater and matching Henrietta accent, is like no other Raven boy she has met before. The second is Gansey’s, much loved journal, it’s leather cover softened with use and the collage like content of cuttings, notes and doodles, charting Gansey’s extraordinary search for Glendower. It inspires feelings of adventure and discovery and calls to an innate desire within Blue.

Blue decides to use the knowledge she has gained from her unusual background and help Gansey, Adam, Ronan and Noah with their search. It becomes obvious that the search for Glendower is as much her quest as theirs and very quickly she is established as part of the group, that instead of being a fifth wheel, she is the missing point in their pentacle. ,

Although The Raven Boy’s is paranormal mystery and adventure, I never felt as though I was chasing the ending, racing to the end to get to the big reveal, the “who dun It” like with mysteries I’ve read in the past. It’s not that I wasn’t compulsively turning pages (or in this case listening to just one more chapter!), to reach the conclusion and uncover the mystery, but rather like Gansey’s painstaking scrapbooking, I was simply savoring each new development and delighting in each step along the journey and before I knew it we’d reached the destination.

Like Blue’s mother Stiefvater was the master tarot reader, laying her cards down in a very precise and intricate formation, allowing you to absorb the meaning of each card before, placing the next. Stiefvater’s plotting was so precisely and subtly done that when a plot twist was revealed, a totally unexpected one at that, instead of reacting with surprise or disbelief, I found myself thinking, “why of course, that makes complete sense”.

While reading Stiefvater’s previous novels, I have often felt compelled to re-read sections aloud, savouring the sound of her beautiful dialog and stunning descriptive narrative. When the time came to select my next audiobook, The Raven Boys was a natural choice. I could think of no better treat than having Maggie’s words read aloud to me. I thoroughly enjoyed Will Patton’s performance. His slightly accented, laid back voice suited the book perfectly.

It’s no secret that I have adored all of Maggie’s work to date. Each book has surprised me, surpassing it’s predecessor with its inventiveness and originality while still maintaining a distinctly Maggie style. With her ability to speculate on fantastical worlds, create and maintain tension, craft beautifully tender emotive scenes and her deliciously poetic prose. Maggie is one of my favorite authors and one of the few authors who’s work I happily preorder (in hardback), before the synopsis has even been released.

Verdict: Reaching the end of The Raven Boys, and what has got to be the best final line in a book (trust Ronan to have the parting shot), I found myself smiling gleefully with the anticipation for not only book two but for the entire Raven Cycle.

Reviewed by Caroline

My review of Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races can be found here, while my opinion of Forever can be found here.

Publisher: Scholastic/
Publication Date: September 2012
Format: Audiobook (unabridged)
Length: 11hrs 9mins
Genre: Speculative Fiction
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: None
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The Diviners

Libba Bray and January LaVoy(Narrator)
It’s 1920s New York City. It’s flappers and Follies, jazz and gin. It’s after the war but before the depression. And for certain group of bright young things it’s the opportunity to party like never before.
For Evie O’Neill, it’s escape. She’s never fit in in small town Ohio and when she causes yet another scandal, she’s shipped off to stay with an uncle in the big city. But far from being exile, this is exactly what she’s always wanted: the chance to show how thoroughly modern and incredibly daring she can be.
But New York City isn’t about just jazz babies and follies girls. It has a darker side. Young women are being murdered across the city. And these aren’t crimes of passion. They’re gruesome. They’re planned. They bear a strange resemblance to an obscure group of tarot cards. And the New York City police can’t solve them alone.
Evie wasn’t just escaping the stifling life of Ohio, she was running from the knowledge of what she could do. She has a secret. A mysterious power that could help catch the killer – if he doesn’t catch her first.

To the inhabitants of Zenith, Ohio, Evie O’Neill is just ‘Too Much’, sentiments with which Evie heartily agrees; too much for the small minds of her small hometown. She will show them, she is going to make a name for herself, be ‘a somebody’ and New York City is exactly where she is meant to be. All she needs to do now is prove to stuffy old “Unc” Will, just how indispensible she is, even if that means rustling up interest in her uncle’s dusty old museum and assisting him in the investigation of the gruesome Pentacle murders. The only question now is how much should she reveal about her mysterious powers and the unique perspective they afford her.

I have complicated feelings for Evie. Evie is a good time girl, brash and single-mindedly to the point of selfishness, she doesn’t consider the consequences of her actions and at times I felt like I want to reach in to the pages of the book and shake some sense of her. But then she would give you a glimpse of the deep hurt and vulnerability beneath the brash, roughed façade, a flash of brilliance, of quick thinking intelligence, a backbone of steely courage and an innate sense of right and wrong. I found myself loving Evie, because of her faults not in spite of them.

While Evie, is undoubtedly the main protagonist of The Diviners, the majority of the story line being narrated from her third person perspective, such care is taken with the introduction of each of the additional players that by the end of this installment instead of a list of supporting characters, we are gifted with a large ensemble cast, irrecoverably tied to each other and unknowing racing towards a greater purpose. I can’t help referring to the protagonists as a cast. The descriptive narrative, the sprawling scenes taking in swathes of New York City and the frequently changing third person perspective gave the book a very cinematic feel.

Like a good horror movie, The Diviners was accompanied by an eerie soundtrack track, an ominous warning, a creepy nursery song, the merest hint of which was able to catch my breath and accelerate my pulse.

Libba Bray is the master of creepy. Crafting a story that managed to maintain a baseline of lip biting unease throughout the entire duration of the book, punctuated with fight or flight inducing, sweaty palmed, stomach twisting, heart in mouth horror.

One of the main attractions of the book was the 1920’s setting. For me thoughts of this era inspire images of bobbed haired beauties, draped in pearls on the arms of dapper young men, visiting jazz clubs and drinking cocktails. While the glamour and the sparkle were certainly evident, I was pleasantly surprised at the parallels with our own society. The vilification of our hooded youth as reflected in the disapproval of the flappers. While the heartbreak of young men misled into conflict, returning broken and unsupported, the reconciliation of faith, belief and ethics with ever advancing technological developments, and fame culture are still very relevant to our culture to this day.

I have to admit that as in many areas of my life, I am Glutton for books, devouring whole novels in just a few sittings. At 600 pages, The Diviners is the kind of book that can’t be easily gobbled, the sheer number of pages combined with the weight of it conspire against the book glutton.

Feeding my gluttonous urges, I called upon my multitasking skills, and downloaded the audio book. My intention was to alternate between the crisp paper pages in the evening and the audiobook as I went about my daily life of housework, school runs, commuting and dog walks. I found narrator, January LaVoy’s performance totally engaging and absorbing. So much so that I found that I quickly favored listening to the audiobook and put the paper edition to one side. The Diviners audiobook was the perfect accompaniment to my urban strolls in the fading evening light and crisp autumnal air.

Under LaVoy’s guardianship, each character was bestowed with a distinctive aural voice, which beautifully complemented the character voices created by Bray and the images I’d already begun to formulate in my minds eye. The production value was exceptional, suffering from none of the skipped passages and repeats I have come across in some audiobooks.

The Diviners suited a slower, savored read. Libba beautifully weaves together so many intricate and unique story threads, that you want to slow down and take note of each new colour and texture in its own right before enjoying its contribution to the overall tapestry of the book and, what promised to be a fantastically gripping, series.

That isn’t to say that the book wasn’t a well-paced page turner. Instead of the book lovers chant of “just one more page” I found myself walking just one more block. I even volunteered to take the dog for her morning walk, deserting my duvet and braving the early morning frost, just so I could squeeze in a little more listening time each day.

Verdict: I finished The Diviners with the overall impression of a fantastically creepy and satisfying read, but also with the excited anticipation that it was just the first step in Bray’s master plan.

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Atom/
Publication Date: September 2012
Format: Hardback/Audiobook
Pages: 592/18hours 15min
Genre: Historical, Mystery, Paranormal
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Provided by publisher/ Own copy
Challenge: None
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