Whistle In The Dark

Whistle in the Dark

How did I get it?:
Netgalley- thanks to Penguin Books UK


Jen and Hugh Maddox have just survived every parent’s worst nightmare.

Relieved, but still terrified, they sit by the hospital bedside of their fifteen-year-old daughter, Lana, who was found bloodied, bruised, and disoriented after going missing for four days during a mother-daughter vacation in the country. As Lana lies mute in the bed, unwilling or unable to articulate what happened to her during that period, the national media speculates wildly and Jen and Hugh try to answer many questions.

Where was Lana? How did she get hurt? Was the teenage boy who befriended her involved? How did she survive outside for all those days? Even when she returns to the family home and her school routine, Lana only provides the same frustrating answer over and over: “I can’t remember.”

For years, Jen had tried to soothe the depressive demons plaguing her younger child, and had always dreaded the worst. Now she has hope—the family has gone through hell and come out the other side. But Jen cannot let go of her need to find the truth. Without telling Hugh or their pregnant older daughter Meg, Jen sets off to retrace Lana’s steps, a journey that will lead her to a deeper understanding of her youngest daughter, her family, and herself.


I had a very odd relationship with Emma Healey’s debut novel, it didn’t quite work for me, however, I was really intrigued by the synopsis of her latest novel Whistle In The Dark.  I’m really glad that I gave Emma Healey’s writing another chance, because I actually really enjoyed this book. Don’t you love it when a book surprises you?

Whistle In The Dark opens with Jen and Hugh’s daughter being found after being missing for several days. Lana is found pretty much unharmed with just some injuries on her body. The worst isn’t over yet though, Lana refuses to tell anyone what had happened to her in those days. The story then follows Lana and her family as they begin to adapt to life after such a worrying event.

I was immediately gripped at the beginning, wondering what on earth had happened to Lana. I loved that the story was told from Jen’s perspective, but this is a story where I wonder what it would have been like to hear more from Lana.

This story is about the challenges of being a mother. Not only the everyday challenges of motherhood, but the challenges of being a mother to someone who is incredibly troubled. Lana suffers from depression, leaving her mother to be incredibly anxious and exhausted. She constantly worries about Lana’s wellbeing.

I thought Emma Healey perfectly captured Jen’s anxiety over her daughter and her desire to find out exactly what had happened to her. It was very believable. I feel like this book really delved into family life and explored relationships, not just between Jen and Lana but between Jen and Meg (her other daughter) and Jen and her husband, Hugh too. I don’t usually enjoy books like this, but I was gripped and I put that down to Emma Healey’s wonderful writing.

The only reason why I haven’t rated this book any higher, is that I felt like the middle of the story lacked pace to keep me super intrigued. The beginning and the ending are fabulous, but I was left wanting more when reading the middle section.

Would I recommend it?

A truly engaging read about the stresses of family life!


A Week In The Life Of A Primary School Teacher- Still hanging on!

Every Sunday (hopefully) I shall be posting a personal post about my life as a primary school teacher. I currently work at a primary school teaching Year 2 (6-7 year olds). My training posts on this subject were really successful and so therapeutic for me, therefore I’ve decided to continue posting on the topic. I will not be naming any children, or the school where I work. If personal posts aren’t your thing then feel free to skip these posts. I won’t mind! Bookish goodness returns as normal Monday-Saturday!

This week was the last week at school before a week’s break. It was an absolutely lovely one. We managed to spend a glorious week outside learning which the children really lapped up. I can’t even begin to describe how different their behaviour is when the children have been outside all morning/day. They do get a bit grouchy by the end of the day, I’m not going to lie… but it’s significantly less than usual at this point of the school year.

I really enjoyed my week but was surprised that I had quite an amber week on my work-life balance app. I think it’s because I stayed late at school several evenings to get some things sorted for the last term of school. But in the interest of work-life balance I have had a no work weekend. Yay me!

The reason for this blog post title is that I still don’t know where I am in September. There’s been quite a lot of staffing issues and hopefully now they are sorted I can find out which year group I’ll be teaching in September.

I’m hoping to spend the next week catching up on some ARCs for June (amongst some planning for school!)

Long Way Down

Long Way Down

How did I get it?:
I received it from Faber. Many thanks to them.


hid, tucked
themselves tight.

Pressed our lips to the
pavement and prayed
the boom, followed by
the buzz of a bullet,
didn’t meet us.

After Will’s brother is shot in a gang crime, he knows the next steps. Don’t cry. Don’t snitch. Get revenge. So he gets in the lift with Shawn’s gun, determined to follow The Rules. Only when the lift door opens, Buck walks in, Will’s friend who died years ago. And Dani, who was shot years before that. As more people from his past arrive, Will has to ask himself if he really knows what he’s doing.

This haunting, lyrical, powerful verse novel will blow you away.


I was approached to read this book fairly recently and immediately was intrigued. I’m getting more into books told in verse. I don’t think it’ll ever be my ‘thing’ but I do enjoy reading books written this way every now and then. This is especially the case when they’re about powerful topics. Long Way Down completely captivated me and I could have easily read it in one sitting. It was that compelling.

Long Way Down is a brutal book about violence. It centres around Will’s brother Shawn who was shot and killed. The rules are that someone in your family is killed, you go and seek revenge. That’s what Will sets out to do. He grabs the gun in his room and sets out to kill his brother’s killers. However, in the elevator on the way down he is joined by ghosts of people that have been shot in Will’s life.

The first thing that really struck me was how much Will had gone through in his young life so far. It was heart-wrenching. So many deaths due to gun violence. It has to have really affected him. I definitely thought of all of the lives being ruined to gun violence. It really made my stomach turn. It was sad to see the cycle going on and on. People dying, then the shooter being shot…then someone else killing them… it was endless. I felt like the ghosts were trying to get Will to stop the cycle and realise that seeking revenge wouldn’t end well for him.

I loved that Jason Reynolds used free verse to tell the story. I feel like this was the best way to portray Will’s experience with the ghosts. It was interesting, brutal and powerful at the same time. It made me want to read some of the moments out loud for more of an impact.

Long Way Down sends a message about gang/gun violence. It is devastating to think about how many lives are lost this way every single day. It’s an incredibly quick read and I definitely think the ending is open to interpretation which is interesting.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A quick, brutal read!

Fairy Tale Friday- The Water Kelpie

This Scottish tale is all about a young boy named Kyle. He was from quite a poor family with the only food being available to him and his family being what they grew on a strip of land between their cottage and the shores of the loch. Kyle overheard his mother speaking to his father about spring sowing. Kyle’s father said he was too old to drag the plough and Kyle too young. His mother worried, wondering what to do. Kyle’s father wanted to use a horse to pull the plough, but his wife disagreed. She said it wasn’t a horse outside, but a water kelpie. She begged him not to try to mount the water kelpie as legend had it that no man could tame the water kelpie. Unfortunately, Kyle’s father was insistent and ended up being dragged under by the water kelpie.

Kyle went to the loch to try and get some fish for dinner. He came across an old woman who explained she was freezing at night because her bones ached. Being a good boy, he brought her his father’s plaid to give to her. The woman said she didn’t take anything without giving anything and gave Kyle her shawl telling him it could be better to sit upon a plaidie than wrap it around you. That day, Kyle caught a fish.

The next day the woman returned again near the loch. She told Kyle how hungry she was and he kindly gave her bread that was meant to be for his breakfast. In return, the woman gave Kyle a lump of salt in a pouch. She said salt could be used to kill rather than to cure. That day, Kyle caught 2 fish.

On the third day, Kyle wondered what on earth the woman would want next. The woman wanted a stout rope to pull her bucket from the well. He have her the plough rope as he could not push the plough. The woman gave Kyle a bridle for a horse and told him iron is not only used to make a pot.  That day, Kyle caught 3 fish.

Kyle’s mother told him to take notice of what the old woman had told him. Later in the week, the water kelpie showed itself again. Kyle was determined to beat the water kelpie, but his mother warned him of the legend. Kyle was eager to try. When his mother fell asleep, he put the worn shawl around his shoulders, took the horse bridle and climbed out of the window towards the loch.

He remembered the woman’s words. He took the shawl and placed it over the creature’s back. Then he grabbed its mane and mounted the kelpie. The kelpie grew bigger and bigger. His mother had awoken by then and begged him to jump off. He said he would not until the kelpie ploughed the field. The kelpie snorted and reiterated the legend that no man could ride a water kelpie and live. Kyle remembered the salt and used it against the water kelpie. The salt made the water kelpie enraged. Kyle used the iron part of the horse bridle to slip into the kelpie’s mouth. This immediately tamed the kelpie and it became obedient.

Kyle used the water kelpie to plough the fields and fields for miles around Loch Ness. When the fields were done he released the water kelpie into the loch.

This shows that the legend was true- no man could master the water kelpie, but a boy could!

Next Fairy Tale- The Goshawk and The Brave Lady

The Lie

The Lie

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
The Treatment
The Accident


Jane Hughes has a loving partner, a job in an animal sanctuary and a tiny cottage in rural Wales. She’s happier than she’s ever been but her life is a lie. Jane Hughes does not really exist.

Five years earlier Jane and her then best friends went on holiday but what should have been the trip of a lifetime rapidly descended into a nightmare that claimed the lives of two of the women.

Jane has tried to put her past behind her but someone knows the truth about what happened. Someone who won’t stop until they’ve destroyed Jane and everything she loves.


I have been making my way through C.L Taylor’s books after seeing so many of them around. I thought it was time to get around to them. I’m pleased I have because I’ve found another brilliant writer of thrillers! Whilst The Lie isn’t my favourite book by C.L Taylor, it still didn’t take me long to read. It still made my skin crawl a little bit which I’m coming to expect from a C.L Taylor book!

The Lie centres around a character we believe is called Jane. We find out that ‘Jane’ is her new identity. Five years previously, Jane was Emma and she went to Nepal with her friends to cheer up one of her friends. It was definitely not a relaxing holiday and Emma returned needing to change her name. We know from the start that something bad happened to the girls, but the terrible details start to unfold slowly as you read her story. ‘Jane’ feels like she’s moving on with her life with a job she loves and a relationship that’s developing nicely. However, she soon finds out that someone knows about the past and is going to make sure that she can’t forget it!

I thought The Lie was an incredibly dark read with some awful characters. Awful characters that I loved to read about though. I loved how the story unfolded through flashbacks of 5 years ago and present time. It added to the tension of the story. I have to admit that most of the chapters set in Nepal really were menacing. I found them tricky to read at some points, especially when they were becoming increasingly more violent. It became so tense and the cracks in the friendships really started to show. That’s when I began to dislike characters more and more, but it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story.

I was also intrigued by Emma/Jane’s present day story. I always try and work out who is behind everything during these sorts of stories, but I didn’t quite get there, although I began to have some suspicions. Once again, C.L Taylor does weave a wonderful plot.

I think you’ll enjoy this thriller if you enjoy intense, menacing and uncomfortable thrillers!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

Whilst it wasn’t my favourite book from C.L Taylor, I still tore through it desperate to find out what was happening!

This Week In Books #112

I am joining in with the lovely Lipsy from Lipsy’s Lost and Found’s feature which highlights our week in books. I shall be sharing what I’m reading now, then and next! I won’t be showcasing my new books as I do that on a Saturday. I’m really excited by this feature as I loved sharing my recent reads. My book reviews published on my blog are often WAY behind what I’m actually reading, so this is a good feature to keep you up to date!

Book images go to Goodreads!

Whistle in the Dark The Wonder of Us Blood and Chocolate

NOWWhistle In The DarkEmma Healey– I’m just about to start this book, hopefully I’ll get a good chunk of it read tonight after work.

THENThe Wonder Of UsKim Culbertson– I enjoyed this YA read, but it didn’t blow me away.

NEXTBlood and ChocolateAnnette Curtis Klause– This is the book that Beth and I are reading for our Banned Books feature. I’m very intrigued by it!

What are you reading this week? Let me know!

Ten Best Character Names

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January 2018. It’s all about love of lists, love of literature and bringing bookish people together. 

This week’s list is quite a fun one! It’s all about character names. Here are some of my favourites!

In no particular order:

  1. AriaPretty Little Liars- Sara Shepard- I may not have read the books (and don’t think I will) but I really like the name Aria.

  2. Veruca SaltCharlie and The Chocolate Factory– Roald Dahl- She’s a disgusting character, with quite a disgusting name. So fitting!

  3. Luna LovegoodHarry Potter– J.K. Rowling- I love alliterative names and Luna is one of my favourite Harry Potter characters.

  4. Atticus Finch To Kill A Mockingbird- Harper Lee- Such a strong name for a wonderful character.

  5. Ebeneezer ScroogeA Christmas Carol– Charles Dickens- What a name!

  6. Philip Pirrip (Pip)- Great Expectations- Charles Dickens- Pip! Love that name. Alliterative full name too.

  7. LyraHis Dark Materials– Philip Pullman- I think it’s a really pretty name.

  8. Albus DumbledoreHarry Potter– J.K. Rowling- It’s just a legendary name, right?

  9. Coraline Coraline– Neil Gaiman- I really like the name Coraline!

  10. Matilda- Matilda– Roald Dahl- Every single time I hear the name Matilda I think of my favourite Roald Dahl book. 🙂

How about you? What are your favourite character names? Feel free to leave a link to your post and I’ll stop by!