#BookReview: Once Again by Catherine Wallace Hope | @catwallacehope @RandomTTours

About the Book

What if you had one chance to save someone you lost?

Isolated in the aftermath of tragedy, Erin Fullarton has felt barely alive since the loss of her young daughter, Korrie. She tries to mark the milestones her therapist suggests–like today, the 500th day without Korri–but moving through grief is like swimming against a dark current.

Her estranged husband, Zac, a brilliant astrophysicist, seems to be coping better. Lost in his work, he’s perfecting his model of a stunning cosmological phenomenon, one he predicts will occur today–an event so rare, it keeps him from being able to acknowledge Erin’s coinciding milestone.

But when Erin receives a phone call from her daughter’s school, the same call she received five hundred days earlier when Korrie was still alive, Erin realizes something is happening. Or happening again. Struggling to understand the sudden shifts in time, she pieces together that the phenomenon Zac is tracking may have presented her with the gift of a lifetime: the chance to save her daughter.

Unable to reach Zac or convince the authorities of what is happening, Erin is forced to find the answer on her own, Erin must battle to keep the past from repeating–or risk losing her daughter for good.

My Thoughts

I have to start this review by saying that this book is incredible and even though I read it in the midst of a reading slump I could not put it down! I finished reading this a couple of weeks ago now and I still keep thinking about it.

Once Again is the story of Erin whose 6 year old daughter died eighteen months ago. She is mired in grief and cannot come to terms with what happened. Erin had been happily married to her husband Zac and life was pretty good but now they’re so far apart and neither can see a way back. On the 500th day since Korrie died Zac, an astrophysicist, is working on a momentous project and it has far reaching implications.

On this horrible anniversary Erin receives a call from Korrie’s school asking her to come and collect her daughter, a call she should have taken on the day her daughter went missing but she didn’t. Now Erin realises that time is shifting and she needs to get hold of Zac to figure out what is going on.

I adored this book. It really captures what it is to be lost in grief and unable to see a way through it. Erin is really struggling and this is so believable and so beautifully written. As the novel unfolds we see what happened in the past the day Korrie disappeared, and why Erin missed a phone call that might have saved her daughter. We also see what seems to be time shifts in the present as Erin finds herself falling back to that fateful day. It’s not clear straight away if something is actually happening to Erin or if her mind is playing tricks on her. I was completely rooting for Erin and wanted her to be able to go back and to get to the school in time to save her daughter.

I had no idea how this novel was going to unfold or how it might end. I had my suspicions and I was completely wrong. I love that this novel kept me on my toes when it came to the action but that it held me under its spell when it came to the emotional impact.

Once Again is truly an incredible read. I read it in two sittings and ever since I finished reading it I keep finding myself thinking of Erin and wondering what is happening in her life now. It’s such a poignant novel but also action packed and fast-paced as we see Erin’s race against time, and the odds, to stop the past repeating itself. There really aren’t enough superlatives to describe how brilliant this novel is! I highly recommend it and I strongly urge you all to read it. It is for sure one of my favourite books of this year and I already want to go back and read it all again!

Many thanks to Anne of Random Things Tours, and Alcove Press for my copy of this book and the invitation to take part in this blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

Come Again is out now and available here.

In Black and White by Alexandra Wilson | @RandomTTours

About the Book

Alexandra Wilson was a teenager when her dear family friend Ayo was stabbed on his way home from football. Ayo’s death changed Alexandra. She felt compelled to enter the legal profession in search of answers. 

As a junior criminal and family law barrister, Alexandra finds herself navigating a world and a set of rules designed by a privileged few. A world in which fellow barristers sigh with relief when a racist judge retires: ‘I’ve got a black kid today and he would have had no hope’. 

In her debut book, In Black and White, Alexandra re-creates the tense courtroom scenes, the heart-breaking meetings with teenage clients, and the moments of frustration and triumph that make up a young barrister’s life. 

Alexandra shows us how it feels to defend someone who hates the colour of your skin, or someone you suspect is guilty. We see what it is like for children coerced into county line drug deals and the damage that can be caused when we criminalise teenagers. 

Alexandra’s account of what she has witnessed as a young mixed-race barrister is in equal parts shocking, compelling, confounding and powerful. 

My Thoughts

In Black and White is such a brilliant and eye-opening read. Alexandra Wilson is a young mixed race woman from Essex who trained as a barrister. She worked very hard and is incredibly motivated and this book is her story as she navigated the system facing racism and misogyny all along the way.

When Alexandra Wilson was a teenager her cousin Ayo was murdered in an unprovoked attack when he was not far from his home. This had a profound effect on her and it compelled her to get her law degree to try and seek out answers and to make a difference.

This book is part memoir and part an introduction to the law and how it works. We learn about how you train to become a barrister, and how hard it is to not only get on the course but to find a job too. There are examples of the people Alexandra has defended, which give such an eye-opening look at how people end up in court and the wide-ranging cases that barristers work on.

It was sad to read how often people, particularly young people, end up in court and criminalised when perhaps they could have been dealt with before it got to this stage. It’s hard to read of people who have made a relatively minor mistake, or have genuine extenuating circumstances, are then hampered by a conviction from that point on.

Along the way we see the awful ways that Alexandra was judged for being black, at times being assumed to be the defendant rather than the barrister. She’s also in the minority being a woman in the profession so has that battle too. I really appreciated the way that some defendants felt more able to be open with Alexandra as they felt she was more like them. It really highlights Alexandra’s point that the Bar needs to be much more diverse than it is now.

I found In Black and White to be such an engaging, powerful and fascinating read and I’m so glad I picked it up. This is a very timely and must-read book – one I would recommend to everyone. It’s one of my favourite non-fiction books that I’ve read this year and it’s one that will stay with me.

Many thanks to Anne of Random Things Tours and Octopus Books for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

In Black and White is out now and available here.

WWW Wednesdays (8 Jul 20)! What are you reading this week?

WWW pic

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading!

Current Reads

How To Be An Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi

I started reading this book last night and have been engrossed in it. It’s a book that has a really good mix of education on what antiracism is along with it being part-memoir. The author explores his own experiences of having racist ideas and internalised racism. It’s an eye-opening read and one that I’m finding very useful and interesting.

Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

I started reading this yesterday too and am so intrigued by where this one’s going to go. It follows two characters: Saffyre, a teenage girl who has had a tough life and is now in therapy; and Cate a married mother of two whose husband is Saffyre’s therapist. Cate seems to be very edgy and easily tipped into paranoia and I can’t quite weigh her up as yet. It feels like this novel is slowly building up to something but I’m not sure what as yet but I can’t wait to read more and find out!

Recent Reads

The Confession by Jessie Burton

My husband bought me this book for Christmas and I saved it to read over the summer and I’m so glad I got to read this one now. It’s such a stunning book, I read it in just two sittings as I didn’t want to put it down. It follows Elise in the 1980s when she meets Constance and their relationship changes the course of Elise’s life. It also follows Rose in the present day as she’s searching for her mother. She knows Constance was the last person to see her and now she wants answers. I loved this book, how the past and present interweave and how it all unfolds. It’s excellent and I recommend it!

Unfollow by Megan Phelps-Roper

This is another book my husband bought me and I’ve been so keen to read it. I picked it up this week and was quickly engrossed in it. I love how open and honest Megan has been in sharing the awful things she was taught to believe, it was hard to read at times. It was interesting to learn how the structure of the Westboro Baptist Church operated and how easily someone could be frozen out of the family. I was most fascinated by how Megan came to question the teachings she had grown up with and how ultimately she left the church. I’m so glad I read this book and I recommend it!

The Greatest of Enemies by B. R. Maycock

I go this book from Kindle Unlimited and I loved it. It’s a gorgeous novella following two women, Bex and Louise, who are thrown together and they really don’t like each other, they have nothing at all in common apart from they’re both really good friends with Holly (but she’s currently out of the country!). It follows what’s been happening in each of their lives and the impact it has on them. I’ve already reviewed this one so you can find out more of my thoughts here if you’d like to know more.

Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham

This was another gift from my husband, he bought it for me as a surprise as I’d been saying I wanted to know about what happened after watching the TV mini series Chernobyl last year. This is such a well-written and well-researched book and I’m so pleased I read it. I liked the structure of the book – in the beginning there are alternate chapters of the build up to the accident, alongside the history of nuclear power and the accidents that had happened prior to Chernobyl. Then when the accident happens the structure follows various people and what they were doing and what happened. I definitely recommend this one!

The Mating Habits of Stags by Ray Robinson

I got this book on a whim from Kindle Unlimited and I’m so happy that I picked it up. This is a stunning novel and one that I can’t stop thinking about. It follows Jake as he’s on the run in the North Yorkshire Moors trying to escape a murder charge. The novel moves around in time as he thinks about his late wife and his lost son. The mix of desolation with the tenderness of the writing makes this such a poignant read. I highly recommend this one.

What I Might Read Next

Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls

With the books above that count towards my 20 Books of Summer challenge I’m now read 11 of the 20 I picked. So it’s time to get to the next book and I think it’s going to be Sweet Sorrow. I’ve been so keen to read this one and I know I’m going to love it. I think it follows a budding romance between two teenagers and given that it’s set in 1997 I think it’s going to feel like a wonderful nostalgic read.

The Search Party by Simon Lelic

I’ve read most of this author’s books now and this one sounds like it potentially could be his best yet! It’s a novel about a young woman who’s gone missing, and her best friends decide to look for her. It seems though that all know secrets about Sadie that they don’t want to share and the search party becomes a witch hunt! I’m so intrigued by this one and can’t wait to read it!

Black, Listed by Jeffrey Boakye

Here is the Goodreads blurb for this one: Taking a panoramic look at global black history, interrogating both contemporary and historical culture, Black, Listed investigates the ways in which black communities (and individuals) have been represented, oppressed, mimicked, celebrated, and othered. Part historical study, part autobiographical musing, part pop culture vivisection, it’s a comprehensive attempt to make sense of blackness from the vantage point of the hilarious and insightful psyche of Jeffrey Boakye.

I’m really looking forward to get to this one, it sounds like another fascinating read that will give me another insight as I read more books by BIPOC authors to better educate myself on how to be antiracist.

Grace is Gone by Emily Elgar

I’m so intrigued by this book. It follows the aftermath of a beloved and caring mother who has been murdered and her teenage daughter is missing. The community is shocked and no one can understand what has happened or why. Once the police and journalists start digging around the past starts to come to fore nothing will be the same again. I bought this book a few weeks ago on a whim now reading the blurb again I want to read this book asap!

What have you been reading this week? I’d love to hear. And if you take part in WWW Wednesdays or This Week in Books please feel free to leave your link below and I’ll make sure to visit and comment on your post. 🙂