Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer #bookreview #Han #Zoellabookclub


Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer #bookreview #Han #Zoellabookclub

From Amazon: Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can’t resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they’re not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.



First Thoughts
It was going to be a tough read for me. I always knew that. In fact, until Zoe announced it was this week’s focus for the Zoella book club chat I had no intention of reading this book. I thought it was too close to home and I buried it, much like my feelings about death and grief.
I’m really glad I did. Yes, it was a painful read. It was tough going, but there was something a little cathartic about the process.



I was able to engage and empathise with most of the characters. Brigid Kemmerer was able to create almost mirror-like characters that reflect the reader’s experiences that add depth to the characters. From the frustration and anger of Juliet, the warmth of the English teacher to the angst-ridden guilt of Declan.
The characters do grow throughout the narrative, but what I like most is that their growth does not end when the book does. You know that they have further to go, but they’ll get there.
I have more of an attachment to Declan. Perhaps it’s how long he’s had to grief by the opening of the narrative or his specific form of guilt. It could even be my love of his friend, Rev but what I love most of all is how genuine his character is; I’ve seen kids like him in my classes and it’s fascinating to see potential inner workings.


In what could have been a predictable You’ve Got Mail, grief by numbers I am delighted to say I had the rug pulled from under me a few times; and I was looking at it analytically trying to see the red herrings. I can’t really say more without spoiling the twist/s, but I can say that it helps develop a refreshing look at family, coping with death and living up to your own expectations.


It did take me a few more chapters than normal to get into the flow of which voice belonged to whom. I think this was perhaps owing to many chapters having the voices of Juliet and Declan both present; one as narrator other letter writer.
However, by the time the characters moved to other forms of communicating, I was well and truly hooked.

If you’ve read the book, please join the wonderful @zcollins1994 (along with myself and Gem) on Saturday 2nd September 6pm as Zoe hosts her weekly #zoellabookclub chat on Twitter (http://www.nosaferplace.co.uk/2017/07/zoella-book-club-chat.html – Zoe explains it much better in her own words here). If you haven’t read the book, head over to Zoe’s YouTube channel at 5pm https://www.youtube.com/nosaferplace and you also still have time.

Look forward to seeing you there.

The Bone Season: Samantha Shannon #review



Release date: 24.4.2014

From Amazon:


Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.


I love this book. I don’t know how I’m so late in reading it. I believe my best friend had told me about it many, many times. However, it went in one ear, out the other. I’m frustrated that it took me three days to read, however circumstances what they are, I kept getting ripped out of this world and into my own.


What I love about the development of Paige is the fact that nothing is made of her gender. There are comments of strength and weakness, but they are never in relation to her being female.
She is flawed, as the best heroes always are. Paige is our eyes into the world in which Clairvoyance has been declared illegal. She’s strong willed, moral (to a point) and selfless.

I love her and I can’t wait to delve into the sequels. At no point did I wish I could see the efforts of Jax, Nick et al once Paige had been taken. I felt like I was supporting her, just by being there. She had me hooked from the start and I will never leave Paige’s side so long as Shannon keeps writing.

Warden started life in my mind as a younger love child of Alan Rickman and David Warner. If I’m honest, he still remained that way, he just got younger as the book progressed. With an air of mystery, I wasn’t quite sure of him even as I closed the book.
However, his motives did seem clear as I came to the final act. Without spoiling them all I can say is Shannon excels in drip feeding believable hints that make the ending believable.
He’s someone I craved to see more and more throughout the book. I wanted him to be someone a little more than he seemed; Shannon does not disappoint.


The story is artfully woven, throwing the reading readily into the world of seclusion, mythology and resentment. While there are action sequences, Shannon takes her time in building up relationships between characters.
Using whole chapters to delve into Paige’s past could, in other writer’s hands, seem clunky. However, Shannon develops these scenes and doesn’t allow the narrative to lose its flow while reading. Once you have finished the book, you will see how clever and creative these additions are to the story. Not only in terms of character, but to the plot and world building as well.
The story hints at a literary universe that will be with us for many years. Paige is for those of us who have needed something a little bit more substantial than the dystopian trilogies on offer. This story has given us enough questions to run for a series of books and perhaps be compared to that of Harry Potter and Cassandra Clare in terms of scope.
The most important aspect of this story is that it gives you a satisfying ending while leaving you with questions.


Part way through I text a friend and recommended this book to her. She loves The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothuss. I will have to relent and say this writing is better for me. The styles are similar, but Shannon is much more concise and flowing. As much as I love Rothuss myself, I have to read his work in chunks. The Bone Season would have been read in one sitting had I not been attacked by unrelenting conversations of my father.
For a story set in the future, I’m so happy that the writing still brought in an element of an old world. It drew itself back into nature. At least it did for me.
I would put this alongside Lani Taylor’s Daughter of… series too. The writing, like Lani’s, is griping, gritty and pure. It takes you to another world; something many writers would love to achieve and here is Shannon, doing so with an organic ease.

I’m very much looking forward to getting back to London so I can purchase the next two books available. I’m even ignoring my distress at having to buy the third in hardback.