Book Review: Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

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Rating: ★★★★
RRP Paperback: $29.99 AUD

A huge thank you to the wonderful people at Pan Macmillan Publishing for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads synopsis:

North Carolina, 2018: Morgan Christopher’s life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, she finds herself serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women’s Correctional Center. Her dream of a career in art is put on hold—until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to leave prison, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small town secrets.

North Carolina, 1940: Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and desperate for work, she accepts. But what she doesn’t expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors, and where the price of being different might just end in murder.

What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies?

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This book really took me by surprise! Having been sent this book by Pan Macmillan, it wasn’t the kind of book I would normally pick up! But I am honestly so glad I did! It was really emotional and woven together so perfectly. It honestly felt like watching a painting come together.

Big Lies in a Small Town is told from two separate perspectives. One is that of Anna Dale, an ambitious young female artist in the 1940’s who, having won a competition, is chosen to create a mural that will hang in the post office of a small town in North Carolina. The other is that of Morgan Christopher, a woman serving time for a crime she did not commit, who is given a life altering opportunity to be released from prison early in exchange for restoring an old mural.

I really fell in love with how this story was told. it flowed so well from one perspective to the next and had this really beautiful way of making you slowly fall in love with these characters. The diversity of the supporting characters was amazing, the way the author delved into mental health and trauma was done incredibly well and I really enjoyed the history that was woven throughout the novel. I also really appreciated that we got two strong leading ladies in this book!

The plot itself was amazing. I want to say it’s almost a little bit of a “slow burn” in terms of pacing! It takes its time getting to know the ins and outs of the characters and unveils each plot point in a really intricate and interesting way. There were times I felt heartbroken, times I was genuinely shocked and times that I was in awe! A couple of the plot points I did find the tiniest bit predictable, but others were so intricate and surprising that it made for a really interesting read.

An emotional and perfectly painted mural of a book, that I highly recommend picking up. 4 stars!

Book Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

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Rating: ★★★★★
Find it on Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here — it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

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Just call me Cather, because I am FANGIRLING! I’m going to preface this review and say that if you don’t understand that reference, go away and read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell before you dive into Carry On. It isn’t necessary, but it does add to the fun of reading!

I have seen A LOT of negative reviews for Carry On. A LOT. Most of them comparing Carry On to Harry Potter. I went into this without any expectations, I didn’t compare it to anything, I just enjoyed the story. AND IT WAS AMAZING. We get the sweetest enemies to lovers, gay romance, which I think really carried this whole thing for me. The story was fun, but it’s not anything that hasn’t been done before. It’s Rainbow Rowell’s take on the classic “Chosen One” story! But the romance! That was perfection. I could re-read this over and over and I’d still squeal with excitement when Simon and Baz finally admit they have feelings for each other.

Now the only negative thing I really have to say is that the first quarter of this was fairly bland world building. Because we meet Simon in his last year at Watford School of Magicks, we have a bit of backstory to catch up on so it felt like not a lot happened. But once Baz enters the scene and we finally start getting a more character driven book, it becomes something you can devour in one sitting! As I have said, Simon and Baz made this book for me, I could take or leave a few of the supporting characters, but the romance was such perfection that I’ve already purchased a snowbaz t-shirt and pre-ordered Wayward Son (I told you to call me Cather, I was not joking around.)

I could honestly re-read this again immediately. I loved the quirky magic and easy going flow of the writing. It’s the mark of a great book when I can’t imagine picking up anything different. It’s given me a literal book hangover!

Just go read it, you won’t regret it. 1 million stars.

She’s Finally Reviewing ‘Sumpton’

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Well would you look at that! I finally did it! I took the plunge! I decided to start a blog. It’s an idea I have toyed with for such a long time. But to be honest I never really thought I’d be very good at it. Don’t get me wrong, I have had a blog before, but it was more of a cathartic letting of emotions after my brother passed away. A mish-mash of feelings and terrible events. The words just flowed from me back then, like a dam bursting. This blog however has been a long time coming and will be a place for joy and the overwhelming love of literature!

For as long as I can remember I have appreciated books. I felt it was about time that I write my reviews down and let them out into the world, instead of just thinking them!  So now I have a place to ramble, review and muse. If you’re interested in reading book reviews, or the nonsensical ramblings, rantings and ravings of a bibliophile, stick around!