Saturday 24 December 2022

My Top Ten Books of 2022

...not necessarily published in 2022, but that was when I read them.   This isn't a top ten countdown; I've just listed them in the order they were read. 

If you would like to read my review and those on Amazon/Goodreads, please click the title/author.

Happy Reading!!

We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

Dark psychological family drama

An Idle King by Andrew Paterson

Military Drama, Afghanistan

Rizzio by Denise Mina

Novella about Mary, Queen of Scots

What Was Once Home by B K Bass

Post-apocalyptic, alien invasion, set in southern USA

The Last Princess by Shelley Wilson

YA Historical, Vikings and Saxons

Michel The Giant: An African in Greenland 

by Tété-Michel Kpomassie

Memoir - young man from Togo explores Greenland in the 1950s/60s

Sisters at the Edge of the World by Ailish Sinclair

Pre-Christianity Scottish historical drama

Captive of the King by Gemma Lawrence

Book 4 of a series about Lady Jane Rochford, set during the downfall of Anne Boleyn

Tales of Empire by Tom Williams, Penny Hampson, Jacqueline Reiter and Antoine Vanner

Four long-short stories set in the 19th Century

Murder & Mischief by Carol Hedges

Stand-alone Book 10 of a Victorian murder mystery series



Sunday 18 December 2022

MURDER & MISCHIEF by Carol Hedges @riotgrandma72 #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog

5 out of 5 stars

On Amazon (universal link)
On Goodreads

How I discovered this book: it was submitted to Rosie's Book Review Team, of which I am a member.  But I would have bought it anyway ;)

In a Nutshell: Victorian Murder Mystery

This is Book Ten of the series and I have read the other nine; you will, therefore, gather that these books absolutely work for me.  They're linked, in that the same detectives appear in all books, and each story has cameo appearances from characters found in the earlier ones, but they're completely stand-alone.  My advice is to start with #1, though - you'll want to read them all, I promise!

Murder & Mischief, set mostly in London in the mid-19th Century, features a mysterious snow-covered corpse in the garden of a wealthy and unscrupulous land developer, an even more mysterious top hat, two children who have escaped from workhouse drudgery, a clever private detective (female, shock horror!), a community of bohemian artists, and Ms Hedges' trademark supporting cast of grimy folk in dingy pubs and lodging houses, doing what they feel they must to stay afloat ... a prostitute here, a social climber there, all crowded into Victorian London at its best, worst and every level in between.  Then there is the ancient and dilapidated Ships Head down at the Docks, almost a character in itself.  The 'formula' is similar in each one, but it never gets tired, and I always hope there will be more.

It's not easy to review a Book 10 in a series without repeating oneself, so I'll leave it with this: it's great.  They're all great.  Curl up on the sofa with cushions, a blanket, a cup of hot chocolate and a candle or two (to feel like part of the setting!), and you're in for a treat!

Sunday 4 December 2022

CROW COUNTRY by Emily Sullivan

 4 out of 5 stars

On Amazon (universal link)
On Goodreads

How I discovered this bookfreebooksy

In a Nutshell: Bleak post-apocalyptic world in which men are mean and crows are ... huge.

“Everyone was, in one night, made basic again. For when the Lord snapped his fingers, the Devil took the stage. What tremendous music he made”.

A strange book ... highly atmospheric, and that was what kept me reading.  That and wanting to know if the main character, Judge, would make it.

It's almost three decades after some event that caused a blackout across America, a situation never reversed.  Alas, we never find out what happened on October 9th, nearly thirty years before, or why fertility has been affected.  This isn't really a criticism as the book is about the events of the present; I just like to know the full story!  Judge lives in Colorado, in the new town of Genesis, run by a man known only as Law (at first).  Gradually, little bits of information are dropped in to show the reader details about the past.  I liked the way this is done, as by the time this appeared I really needed to know what the backstory between Law and Judge was.

As well as dealing with the usual horrors of a post-apocalyptic world, the inhabitants of Genesis must take cover from the crows, grown huge and predatory.

I found the writing style compelling (in that I couldn't have not read until the end) yet frustrating at times, when something was not explained as much as I would like; at other times, though, this was most effective.  Occasionally there were odd word choices, unusual ways of describing a feeling, the weather, the atmosphere that mostly worked very well but now and again had me thinking, what does she mean?  I noted afterwards that the author writes Westerns, and this book is very much in that vein.  It's raw, bleak, with little comfort for the characters and a dark portrayal of the worst in man.

I liked it.  It's good.  Now I want to read a prequel!

Monday 28 November 2022

On Giving the Unknown Author a Go #TuesdayBookBlog #RBRT

Recently I've run a poll on Twitter to see how much people are willing to pay for either a debut novel, i.e., one by a writer who has not been tried and tested.  This was sparked by a conversation on the subject with writer Ben Winter.  At the moment, the '1.99-2.99' option is winning.  

This led to chat with others about trying unknown authors, generally, and I commented that something I love about being a member of Rosie Amber's book review team is that I have, on occasion, discovered a real gem that I would otherwise not have known existed.  

As I have no book review ready for #TuesdayBookBlog for the second week running, I thought I'd show some examples of those gems - in many cases, I've gone on to read more of the author's books.  Please note, they are all by authors I had never heard of before I chose their book to read.  I didn't know them from Twitter, I hadn't even seen a passing tweet by them!

The poll is HERE, if you would like to vote - I know it's not a black-and-white question, but you're only allowed 4 options!

...and here are the books.  I've been keeping this blog and reviewing for Rosie for nearly 9 years now, so some of them go a fair way back.  Click title of book for my review and Amazon/Goodreads links.

The Silent Kookaburra by Liza Perrat

I've read almost all her books since this one!  Excellent family drama set in small town Australia.

The Usurper King by Zeb Haradon

A great find indeed.  I've read two more since; his latest, Cousin Calls is one of my favourite books in years.  Genre?  He writes like no one else, and certainly doesn't fit into any neat Amazon box.  Just take a look :)

The World Without Flags by Ben Lyle Bedard

Post Apocalyptic, therefore right up my street, though that is no guarantee I'll love the book!  This, however, was so good I bought the prequel as soon as I'd finished it.

Rizzio by Denise Mina

Historical novella

Singularity Syndrome by Susan Kuchinskas

Actually the sequel; I read the first book via Rosie, too.  Dystopian, scifi

An Idle King by Andrew Paterson

Military Drama

Gone: Catastrophe in Paradise by O J Modeska

Non-fiction, an account of an airplane tragedy.  Bought her next book too - just as good.

Neander by Harald Johnson

Went on to read the whole series (I liked Book #2 best), and also read an earlier book of his.  Time Travel, human drama.

Black Irish Blues by Andrew Cotto

Crime drama set in New Jersey

The Memory Box by Eva Lesko Natiello

Psychological family drama

Obsession by Robin Storey

Human drama/thriller novellas - I've read a few of hers via Rosie's blog

The Unrivalled Transcendence of William J Gyle 

by James D Dixon

Read this years ago but it still sticks in my mind as a terrific book.  Drama about a homeless man.

Dystopian future, England and Japan

Fred's Funeral by Sandy Day

Historical family drama

The Code For Killing by William Savage

Not the first of Mr Savage's books that I've read - I read his first one via Rosie's blog and went on to read about ten more!  Historical mysteries.

The Brazilian Husband by Rebecca Powell

Contemporary family drama

I'm a great one for buying random books via Amazon browsing, or after I've read a great review on a blog.  Perhaps one of these might hit the spot for you, too :)

Sunday 13 November 2022

STOLEN SUMMERS by Anne Goodwin @annecdotist #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog

 4.5 out of 5 stars

On Amazon (universal link)
On Goodreads

How I discovered this book: it was submitted to Rosie's Book Review Team, of which I am a member.

In a Nutshell: the prequel to Matilda Windsor is Coming Home

For anyone who hasn't read Matilda Windsor is Coming Home, do read this novella-length prequel first.  It centres around how, in the 1930s (and before, and a while after), unmarried girls who became pregnant were often sent to mental asylums - once inside, they would become institutionalised, some to spend their whole lives locked away.  Poor Matilda - the first scene, when she thinks she's going home from the nunnery where she had her baby, but is in fact being driven to Ghyllside Hospital, is heartbreaking.  It made me want to reach out a hand and shout, 'don't go in!  Run!'

The book alternates between the outbreak of World War II, and the early 1960s, when she and her friend organise little escapades.  Alas, Matilda, already emotionally and mentally unstable because of her years at Ghyllside, cannot take on board how much the world has changed.  Finally, there is a chapter set in 1989 which, if I remember rightly, is how the main book starts.  By this time her mind is gone, though she is not unhappy in her fantasy world.

The book is so well-written, and I thoroughly enjoyed it all the way through, even though it made me want to weep for Matilda and the other women like her.  Highly recommended.

Monday 7 November 2022

SEED by Ania Ahlborn @aniaahlborn #TuesdayBookBlog

 4 out of 5 stars

On Amazon (universal link)
On Goodreads

How I discovered this book: Amazon browse

In a Nutshell: Low key horror, family drama about demonic possession

This is a solid 4* book (I did contemplate an extra half star).  Jack lives with wife Aimee and daughters Abby and Charlie.  At the age of six, Charlie begins to display some worrying traits - Aimee and Abby are disturbed and confused by this, but Jack knows what is going on - he sees himself in his daughter.

As the story develops we see how Jack uncovered the awful truth that he is the victim of demonic possession.  This is nothing like The Exorcist; it's much more subtle.  The plot moves through Charlie's increasingly erratic behaviour, and is interspersed with tales from Jack's childhood; slowly, slowly, the truth about why he left his childhood home and what happened to his parents, is revealed.  The pace of the book seemed a little slow at points during the middle (one big event would have made all the difference), but I didn't get bored with it, at all.  The last chapters are great, and wrap it all up so well; I was glad the author dared to make the ending all it should have been, and not go with a cop-out HEA.

Ms Ahlborn writes in a most engaging fashion, and Charlie is truly terrifying ... in a subtle, low-key way.  It would make a terrific film or limited series.  I'd read another book by her, for sure; I definitely recommend if you like this sort of story.

Thursday 27 October 2022

LOVE, LOSS AND LIFE BETWEEN by Suzanne Rogerson @rogersonsm #TuesdayBookBlog #RBRT

3.5 out of 5 stars

On Amazon (universal link)
On Goodreads

How I discovered this book: it was submitted to Rosie's Book Review Team, of which I am a member.

In a Nutshell: Short Story collection, as per the title.

Ten short stories from fantasy author Suzanne Rogerson, snapshots of lives, some with happy endings, others bittersweet.

My favourite was the first one, Spirit Song, about an old lady called Cecilia and her lute.  Short, so atmospheric; I loved it.  I also liked Goodbye Forever, in which an abused wife makes her escape.  This was most exciting and fast-paced, and I whipped through it.  Another favourite was Garden Therapy, with its unexpected plot that unfolded so gradually, and I liked Catalyst, too.

As with many short story collections there were some that appealed more than other; I preferred those with a little glimpse of 'outside this world', rather than the straightforward love stories.  I would say Ms Rogerson's talent is in writing the benign paranormal, for sure!

Sunday 23 October 2022

TALES OF EMPIRE by Tom William, Antoine Vanner, Jacqueline Reiter and Penny Hampson

5 out of 5 stars

On Amazon (universal link)
On Goodreads

How I discovered this book: Twitter.

In a Nutshell: 4 long-short stories set in the 19th Century.

What a gem this book is!  Four long-short stories set during the age of the British Empire, and every one a winner.  Brittannia's Chase by Antoine Vanner is a short story from the author's Dawlish Chronicles series, in which a young naval officer's vessel crosses paths with a slaver ship.  A Clean Sweep by Penny Hampson focuses on an unscrupulous fellow who sends little boys up chimneys, and Tom Williams' The Tiger Hunt is an exciting side story from Tom's The White Rajah, and features John Williamson and James Brooke once more (The White Rajah is excellent too, incidentally!).

If I had to choose a favourite it would be Jacqueline Reiter's The Arabian, set in Gibraltar, from the point of view of an aide to the 2nd Earl of Chatham, John Pitt  (I liked it so much I bought Ms Reiter's novel about Pitt, The Late Lord), though there's not much to choose between them, as they're all beautifully written, thoroughly enjoyable and perfectly illustrate the attitudes and social limitations of the time.  Before each story is an introduction with background about how it came into being, which makes the collection feel rounded and complete - and there's a little something extra at the end.  The book is a nice length - you could read them all in, say, one afternoon.

Tom Williams is the only one of these authors I have read before; I look forward to reading more from the others, too.  This book comes most highly recommended, whether or not you have an interest in this period of history.

Monday 17 October 2022

CAPTIVE OF THE KING by Gemma Lawrence @TudorTweep

 4.5 out of 5 stars

On Amazon (universal link)
On Goodreads

How I discovered this book: one of my favourite writers; I've been following this series.

In a Nutshell: Book 4 of a series about Lady Jane Rochford, set during the reign and downfall of Anne Boleyn.

The fall of the Boleyns is such a terrifying and sad story, and Gemma Lawrence has told it here in a most compelling fashion from the point of view of Lady Jane Rochford, George Boleyn's wife.  

Reading about the period after Anne, George and their friends had been executed, leaving Jane all alone and out of favour with just about everyone, I was struck by the way in which her whole life was lived in relation to other people.  In the notes at the back, Ms Lawrence described Jane as the watcher, just out of focus; isn't that perfect?  Jane felt that without her status as George's wife and one of Anne's senior ladies, she faded away.  The feeling I had about her was more than that, though; I noticed, throughout, that there was nothing in her life that was just for Jane.  Scarcely a book, a favoured food, a pastime, a preference.  As though it never occurred to her that what she wanted mattered.

Her childlessness must have had a huge impact on her feelings of worthlessness and invisibility; I am sure the way Ms Lawrence has portrayed her is close to the truth.  Although during the first third I felt a little frustrated by the book being more about Anne than Jane herself, told in reported and overheard conversation, I daresay that this is a good representation of Jane's life.  That only her involvement with others gave her existence any validity.  Her days were marked by events at court, even when she was not there, rather than anything that actually happened to her.

'There were no morals in the world anymore, just varying degrees of monster'.

...and the greatest monster of all was the King himself.  A small man who gorged himself and postured, to fill the emptiness inside.  Reading historical fiction about his reign (mostly by Ms Lawrence), I have long felt that he deeply regretted what he did to Anne and all those others who'd died on his watch, and his conscience could not deal with it.  Though he appeared to have little conscience during the dissolution of the monasteries, for his own vanity and to distribute largesse amongst those currently in favour.

I like how, in this series, Jane is given slight psychic abilities.  Nothing too outlandish, just enough to be believable. It adds another, most interesting dimension to her story - and this book certainly blows apart the myth that Jane Seymour was the most loved of Henry's wives.  I imagine the reality was that, as Jane Rochford observes, he very quickly grew tired of Seymour's pale character.  Of course, he hadn't got a clue what he really wanted, other than a son; he thought Seymour a soothing balm during his tempestuous relationship with Anne, but without the latter, the former must have been less appealing.  

'He did not care what she wanted.  He wanted her to nod and agree with him, get fat with a son and be silent.  She was not his love or equal.  She was livestock.
And though she said it not, Jane knew that.'

The notes at the end show which parts are fact, and which parts are dramatic invention.  I was fascinated to read that Jane really did write to Cromwell asking for help after George's death, and that the letter still survives!

It's a jolly good book, and I particularly liked the end fifteen per cent or so: the aftermath of the May murders, and Jane Seymour's growing realisation that she is in as much potential danger as anyone else in her husband's orbit.  I very much look forward to the next episode!

Monday 26 September 2022

SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD by Ailish Sinclair @AilishSinclair #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog

5 out of 5 stars

On Amazon (universal link)
On Goodreads

How I discovered this book: it was submitted to Rosie's Book Review Team, of which I am a member.

In a Nutshell: Ancient Scottish drama: 'a story of chosen sisters, fierce warriors, divided loyalties and, ultimately, love'

What a marvellous book this is.  I read it quickly, trying not to whizz through it once I got to the last twenty percent!  The title refers to the relationship between Morragh and her sister, Onnagh; they are not birth sisters.  Morragh was treated in the most brutal way as a young child, and Onnagh saved her.

The notes at the back of the book tell of the historical facts and theories on which Ms Sinclair has based this story.  It takes place in a time before Christianity, when the ancient Scottish Taezali tribe believed in pagain spiritual presences.  Morragh, in whose voice the tale is told, is mute - until the events of one spring and summer change her life and that of her community; the men from Rome have travelled north to conquer their villages and challenge every aspect of their existence.

Morragh is blessed with second sight and acute intuition; she is also able to see what might take place in the future.  I love this aspect of the book - I am not usually a fan of the fantastical or supernatural, but her gift felt oddly real.  Possible.

It's a fabulous story, a real page-turner and so well written.  It made me think about the passage and circle of time, of the constancy of the land on which we live and the transient nature of human life.  Loved it. 

Monday 19 September 2022

BLACK ROCK by David Odle #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog

 4 out of 5 stars

On Amazon (universal link)
On Goodreads

How I discovered this book: it was submitted to Rosie's Book Review Team, of which I am a member.

In a Nutshell: Small town thriller set in Indiana, with hints of supernatural.

The story starts in a classic fashion for this sort of tale - a family en route to somewhere else turns off the road to find a toilet and anything that might ease their journey on a dark and lonely night.  The scene is filled with foreboding, and sets the stage nicely for what comes next.

A curious fellow called Benjamin Clark is threatening the town's Pastor Thomas Loggins - he knows a secret from Loggins' past, and will reveal it unless the Pastor pays a terrible price.  Thing is, Clark has done this before.  More than once.  Going back many years...

Some don't agree with my theory that writing talent is something you need to be born with - you can hone it, develop it or ignore it, but if the talent is not innate, you will have a hard time delivering a story in such a way that makes people want to keep turning the pages.  Which is what it's all about.  David Odle certainly has this talent - the suspense worked so well, and I was totally invested in the story.  Just two aspects let it down, for me, was that it wasn't very well edited.  I felt it could have done with another draft or two, and a more eagle-eyed proofreader.  The other disappointment was the lack of resolution about Benjamin.  It's hard to explain this without giving the plot away, but I needed to know more about his history and motivation than I was told.

All in all, though, it's a good book, and I'd recommend it for the storytelling quality alone.

Monday 5 September 2022

MICHEL THE GIANT: AN AFRICAN IN GREENLAND by Tété-Michel Kpomassie #TuesdayBookBlog

5 GOLD stars

On Amazon (universal link)
On Goodreads

How I discovered this book: Birthday present from my sister.

In a Nutshell: Teenage boy in Togo, West Africa, in the 1950s, becomes obsessed with the idea of visiting Greenland after reading an article about it.  Eight years later, he arrives there.  This is the story of his adventure.

What a story!  

This is not a tale of picture book Inuit folk beaming by sledges as they break ice to fish and build igloos; the author discovered that Greenlanders are not the hardworking, innocent people of his imagination, either.

The memoir begins in Africa, showing Kpomassie's life in Togo. He explains his fascination with Greenland and determination to get there.  The first village he visits, Qaqortoq, on the southern coast, is friendly, yes, as the people drift in and out of each other's houses, are always happy to put up a visitor in colourful houses where the coffee pot is always on - but he also details the drunkenness that is as much a part of their life as the cold, and the casual attitude to sex: 'Greenland morality was beginning to disgust me'.  He is disappointed by the lack of adherence to their native culture, which is down to the influence of the Danish, who owned this enormous island at the time.  Since then, there has been a move to reassert their own cultural identity, self-rule has been established, and the country has been slowly moving towards complete independence from Denmark.

Qaqortoq, recent photo

Kpomassie eventually reaches the far north and discovers the hunters, the kayaks - the frozen world of which he'd dreamed.  Everywhere he is shown great hospitality, except in one village in the north where his only option is to stay with the poorest family in disgusting conditions (seriously, don't read it while you're eating).  He is clearly something of a celebrity, due to his colour and height, and I gathered that he's a rather charismatic man; everyone appears to like him, and he is very popular with the ladies.  In the far north, wife-swapping is a recreational activity, with public 'dances' especially for this purpose.

I love that he finally reached the far, far north, and played a full part in the lives of the people he met, hunting and fishing.

This is an honest, graphic and often funny account, as much about the day-today social life and people as a descriptive journal about the landscape and culture - it's not a pretty travelogue type of memoir at all.  Greenland is somewhere I've often wanted to visit; now, not so much.  Highly recommended to anyone who loves this sort of story - unputdownable!

Article about Kpomassie, now 80 years old, HERE

Thursday 18 August 2022


 3.5 out of 5 stars

On Amazon (universal link)
On Goodreads

How I discovered this book: it was submitted to Rosie's Book Review Team, of which I am a member.

An interesting book.  I was slightly put off at the start, because the main female character's name is 'Kak', a nick-name because her initials are K.A.K.  The American author probably does not know that the word 'cack' is English slang for faeces - I winced every time I read it!  

Basically, the story is about Kak and Rudy, who meet at defining moments of their lives.  Kak's problem is that she does not want to become an appendage to her husband-to-be, a handsome, rich doctor from a wealthy, controlling family.  Rudy is a corporate big shot, and has an epiphany when he sees how company policy has brought devastation to workers further down the chain in the company he makes money for.

I loved reading Rudy's sections - he was a great character, so likable, and I enjoyed reading all about the hellish world of amassing the billions at any cost.  I was not so keen on Kak, who came across (to me, anyway) as dithery and self-indulgent and, like Rudy, I grew tired of her talking in semi-riddles.  The main problem for me about the whole plot was this: if she didn't want to marry Phillip, why didn't she just ... not marry him?  There didn't appear to be any love there.  She could have just walked away.

Despite a few editing errors (names changing, the odd homonym - I think Phillip becomes Andrew at one point), the writing itself is great.  The dialogue is tight, realistic and amusing, with some great throw-away remarks and quips.  This was what made me want to keep reading, as well as finding out what happened.  I found the novel somewhat disjointed at first and kept having to go back so I could work out what was actually happening when - dates might have helped - but it sorts itself out by about 10%.

To sum up - there is a lot of good stuff in this book, but I think it could do with another draft or two.

Sunday 31 July 2022

CONVERSION: THE FALL #1 by ST Campitelli @stcampitelli #TuesdayBookBlog

 4 out of 5 stars

On Amazon (universal link)
On Goodreads

How I discovered this book: Twitter

In a Nutshell: Post-apocalyptic thriller set in Australia

The story begins a couple of years after 'The Fall', when Australia is already divided into warring factions - the well-defended 'wallcoms' - communities in which people can live a life that resembles the 'before', and those who have chosen to live outside the relatively safe walls.  Many of the original wallcoms have now fallen, overrun by the infected, feral beings with white skin.  Once bitten, it's only a matter of time before you become a 'jack'.

Then there is the Headhunter - the standard post-apoc psycho baddie.  A trope that never gets old - every book of this genre needs at least one!

The author concentrates on several main characters, each one of whom tells the story from their POV, always in the third person.  John Bradley is a regular guy who goes out with the scavenging teams, though wife Helen wishes he would choose a safer occupation.  Reading this, though, I couldn't help thinking that I'd want to do what John does, too, instead of hiding behind the walls in an illusion of safety.  The sense of adventure is full-on, with missions described in detail.  Anyone who has fantasies of living in a post-apoc world (that's me with my hand up) will be drawn to this.  

The book is plot- rather than character-driven, which meant that I sometimes had trouble remembering who everyone was, but the dialogue totally works and the writing is such that some characters were still three-dimensional to me: John, his mate Matt, rockers Skylar and Harley (loved them!), and the Headhunter.  I loved the inventive details about the technology, the spectacularly good world-building, and the chapters from the POV of the infected. 

Good stuff, post-apoc lovers.  Book #2 is also available, and I believe Book #3 is in progress.

Friday 15 July 2022

THE WAY THE LIGHT BENDS by Lorraine Wilson #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog

 4 out of 5 stars

Publishing on Amazon on August 2nd
On Goodreads

How I discovered this book: it was submitted to Rosie's Book Review Team, of which I am a member.

In a Nutshell: Love, loss and the supernatural

An interesting and unusual book that centres around two sisters: the unconvential, wildhearted Tamsin who cannot come to terms with the death of her twin brother, Rob, and perfect Freya, the older sibling with the perfect husand and perfect job.  Then, a year after Rob's death, Tamsin disappears without trace, as does her boyfriend, a curious and shadowy figure about whom nobody knows anything much at all.

The book is written in two time frames, and from two points of view - Tamsin tells her story in the first person, gradually letting the reader into the turmoil in her mind, and showing what led up to her disappearance.  Freya's sections are told in the third person - these are good choices, just right for the story.  Freya's account shows her own, deepening turmoil as she grieves for Rob and becomes obsessed with finding Tamsin; she feels increasingly isolated, and begins to question everything about the way her family lives.  

The setting is Scotland; Perth, St Andrews and a couple of other locations. Tamsin and her friends worked in the grounds of old country house, and ran 'forest schools' for children; I loved all the detail about this.  The novel is beautifully written and flows so well.

Any negatives?  Sometimes I felt the descriptive passages were a little long-winded, when I wanted to get on with the story and find out what Tamsin's mysterious boyfriend was all about, and I was underwhelmed by the ending, which I thought a little wishy-washy after the build-up, but I did enjoy reading this book; much of the prose has an almost poetic, ethereal quality to it, reflecting the subject matter, and certainly the author should be proud of it.