About Me

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Tea-drinking introvert found either behind a book or within arm's reach of one. Book reviewer, and book sniffer. You may have seen me on W24, BooksLive, Aerodrome, Bark Magazine, CultNoise Magazine, or Expound Magazine.

27 Jul 2021

Review: Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal

Nell has tried to stay out of sight her whole life. With a rare skin condition that has her peppered in spots, she’s learned to avoid the eyes in her local village. Until now. When the village hosts Jasper Jupiter’s Circus of Wonders, she catches a glimpse into a strange new world of performers and self-confessed oddities. But it isn’t until her father sells her off to the troupe that she really learns about circus life.

For the first time, Nell is using her appearance. With Jasper’s innovative thinking, a gorgeous outfit, and a little practice, she evolves from a flower-picking recluse into one of England’s top performers, even catching the eye of the Queen herself.

But Nell’s moment in the spotlight is under threat, because Jasper has been relying a little too heavily on loan sharks and promises to make his circus the greatest show in the country.

At the same time, Nell learns to navigate the minefields of love and friendship, as her world becomes more vibrant – and more dangerous – than she ever could have imagined.

Circus of Wonders is a truly thrilling book that hits all the right boxes, by offering the reader a little bit of everything. It has mystery, suspense, drama, romance, a brilliantly-written narrative, and a dash of magic. With an insight into the workings of Old England, Elizabeth Macneal has also managed to reimagine the concept of wonder – presenting a tradition as old as the circus in a fresh and delicious new way. But there’s more to this book than just a good circus story – there is an underlying social commentary about the dangers of judgement, as well as the unbreakable and often intimidating bonds between lovers and family. Circus of Wonders is deep, and it’s beautiful. What more could you want?

Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal is published by Picador, an imprint of Pan Macmillan.


14 Jul 2021

Review: Peaces by Helen Oyeyemi

When Otto and Xavier Shin decided to go on an epic train journey for their non-honeymoon honeymoon, they had no idea what to expect. Not only are they the only two passengers on board, but the vehicle is home to the mysterious Ava Kapoor and her lifetime of secrets. As the two men begin to piece together Ava’s unusual background, and the circumstances that led to her living on the train, they realize that they’re sharing more than just their time together. For some inexplicable reason, the Shins and Ava are tied by more than just geography – they also share a mystery; the curious case of people unseen.

For Ava, it’s an invisible man she refuses to believe exists. For Otto, it’s a mysterious figure he failed to save from a burning building, and for Xavier, it’s the ex whose love he didn’t fully appreciate. As their journey progresses, the unseen and forgotten players from the character’s pasts slowly begin to play a larger role, blurring the fine lines between reality, memory and delusion. All the while, it becomes increasingly clear that another line is being blurred; that between passenger and prisoner.

Peaces is more than just a story; it’s a journey. Through gloriously written prose that reads like poetry, we are able to follow in Helen Oyeyemi’s footsteps. As she takes us deeper into a world of possibility and improbability, it’s enough to make you question your own existence and be thankful for it. The care with which Oyeyemi writes, and the intricate meanings she conveys through her prose, have given this book a mirror-like quality. Not only does the language impress and sparkle like well-polished silver, but the words themselves slowly join forces to ensnare and capture the reader into a larger-than-life fairytale. And you will not want to escape. Being in a world created by this author feels like purpose; her words beg to be read, and digested, and shared. Who am I to deny that?

Peaces by Helen Oyeyemi is published by Faber & Faber, a Bloomsbury company, and can be found in South Africa from Jonathan Ball Publishers.

13 Jul 2021

Review: Bullet Train by Kotaro Isaka

Kimura’s world fell apart when his son was pushed from a roof. But having a son in a coma has allowed the former assassin to do two important things; get sober and seek revenge. When he finds out that the person responsible for pushing his boy is on a train, he decides to take matters into his own hands and ensure that the culprit never reaches his stop. But there’s a catch. The person he’s hunting is just a fourteen-year-old boy, and he’s not the only hitman on the train. Five professional killers boarded the train, but not everyone will make it to their stop alive.

As Kimura’s plans fail, he realizes that the young psychopath he’s tracking is embroiled in something far bigger than he could have expected, and that he has no idea who is really orchestrating the elaborate plan that requires so much death. The only question now is who will make it to the end of the line, and at what cost?

Bullet Train is full of surprises. After a slow and jerky start, the narrative picks up momentum that is delicious and hypnotic. Slowly, the various threads woven by Isaka come together to form a complex tapestry that’s as mesmerizing as it is clever. Truly, Bullet Train is an unexpected gem that’s pure adventure and a great ride. Train puns aside, this book is marvelous – the plot is intricate and carefully thought out, with a cast of amazing characters that win you over even in their darkest moments.

Not only does Isaka tease the dark nature of humanity and the inevitable downfall of pride and rage, but he makes us question traditional storytelling and characters – with a juvenile mastermind and deaths left, right and centre, Bullet Train is more than just a clever whodunnit – it’s an exercise in predicting the unexpected, and not being distracted by the many twists and red herrings. And it’s wonderful.

Bullet Train has a little bit of everything – action, comedy, suspense, a dash of the macabre, and most importantly, elegant prose that creates a delightful juxtaposition to the criminal nature of its contents. What more could you want?

Bullet Train by Kotaro Isaka is published by Harvill Secker, an imprint of Vintage; a Penguin Random House company.

12 Jul 2021

Review: Watch Her Fall by Erin Kelly

Ava Kirilova has spent her life working towards this moment. After years of practice and dedication, she’s not just ready to headline Swan Lake – she IS Swan Lake. But being the best has a downside. Because her father owns the dance company, Ava’s had to work twice as hard to prove that she is the best, and not just the favourite. And the journey to the top has been lonely.

While Ava puts everything into the role, and in ensuring that she’ll make her father proud, she’s sacrificed things like friendship, connection, and occasionally, her peace of mind. And maybe she was right to do that.

Just before her debut in the role she was born for, disaster strikes. Someone wants what Ava has, and they’re willing to do anything to get it. In a cruel representation of life imitating art, the tragedy of the Black Swan has bled into Ava’s life, and there’s no turning back now.

Watch Her Fall is like a dance itself – carefully choreographed, flawless, and unpredictable. In fact, there was a time when I started having flashbacks of Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis’ twisted relationship onscreen, and despaired that Erin Kelly would be following the same path.

I was so gloriously wrong. In just a few pages and several gasps, this book evolved from a well-known trop of jealously and despair into something so much darker and more delicious. While Ava dances as the two Swans, she deftly skips over every red herring you can imagine, until her steps, and the narrative they trace, emerge into new and unpredictable territory. This book will blow your mind, and if you love a good twist, then this will be your guiding star because it has so many, you’ll get whiplash.

Honestly, there is nothing to fault in this book, apart from the fact that it ends. From clever character development to shocking horrors and suspense, and a poetic prose, Watch Her Fall is nothing short or art, and you need it in your life. and then you’ll need more. So Erin Kelly, I hope you’re hard at work on your next literary treat.

Watch Her Fall by Erin Kelly is published by Hodder & Stoughton and is available in South Africa from Jonathan Ball Publishers.