MAZZONI AND HER FOXY LITTLE TALE SLINKS INTO YOUR HEART AND STAYS THERE

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Thankfully Albinism is more commonly accepted in humans, due to medical research, than it is in the animal world, where albino’s are usually ostracised by their own kind and struggle to survive. It’s thought that albino alligators, for example, have a life span of around 24 hours, due to the lack of both UV protection in the skin, and camouflage to protect them from predators. Before researching this review, I assumed only animals and humans were prone to albinism, but plants can get it too. But not all ‘albino’ animals are  really albino’s. They are loosely referred to as being such, however, true albinos have red eyes.  This month’s third book review features an albino animal, it’s The Snow Fox Diaries by Jan Mazzoni, published by Amazon last August.

Katie is a smart and successful partner in a  London estate agent; until the boss’s rampant gambling debts bring about its demise, and with that her job.  A year later, and she’s still unemployed, and starting to lose hope. When a client of her husband Ben, offers her the opportunity to move to the edge of Exmoor and renovate the interior of a house left to them by a relative, Katie jumps at the chance to escape a capital. She hopes to avoid struggling through a vicious winter and the onset of a crippling financial crash, fby heading for the fresh ,but frozen, fields of the West Country. With Ben leaving her for weeks while he tries to keep his own business afloat in London, Katie sets about working on the house and exploring the moorland. The countryside has been ravaged by a hard winter and the rabbit population devastated by a myxomatosis epidemic, which in turn is having a knock on effect on the food chain, forcing other predators such as foxes and the like to find alternative food sources. After a while Katie starts to catch glimpses  of a white fox around the garden, and in the distance across the fields, as well as on the roadsides. Then one day in early spring, while walking on the moors she gets up close to a white vixen and her  two cubs. Taking a couple of photos, Katie starts to feel a bond. Locals are aware of a supposedly rare albino fox, but also resentful of foxes for attacking local livestock. When the two  white cubs are bludgeoned to death by local youths, Katie is desperate to find the vixen, but her growing obsession with the fox is having a detrimental effect on both her mental state and her marriage. Can she save the rare fox, with the help  of family and some dubious new local friends, while also trying to get her life back on track?

If you’ve already read this week’s previous review, you’ll remember my wife describing how she sidestepped this book after reading the first page and the description of numerous animal deaths. It turned out to be a scene setter for the book, and  yes there are gorier animal mishaps. Being set in rural England, there are going to be a few four legged casualties. So I was able to somewhat overcome these little details.

The book itself, is a bit of a slow burn at first, but then, being an animal lover, the story did start to get to me. I am, as you may know from previous reviews, a slave to my emotions and very much in touch with them, so much so, that by the time I was finished, I was emotionally bereft and felt the same way I do after watching animal movies in general. 

Mazzoni’s writing style ensures that this story gets under the readers skin and tugs at the heartstrings, while also being topical. As the story takes place against the backdrop of the recent financial crisis, there are similarities to present day, considering what we are enduring now, and will face, in the economic aftermath.

Overall, I felt like in some instances, there were similarities to  Where the Crawdads Sing, with a troubled female character, helping an animal and using it to work through her own personal trials and tribulations. Although others might draw more similarities to books such as Watership Down, only here, with a fox as the central theme.

 

Jan Mazzoni

This English author Jan Mazzoni (www.janmazzoniwriter.com) third book, the others are Dreamland And Other Stories and Stones Of The Madonna. Jan has been writing since she was a child and has only recently realised that her stories fit into the Genre of Eco Fiction. She lives on the edge of Exmoor in Devon with her husband three Romanian rescue dogs.

So, if you are looking for a heart-warming story to remove you from the various physical, political and medical storms whirling around outside your door, then look no further than Mazonni’s book. Take yourself online to amazon and order or download a copy and transport yourself to the wilds of north Devon, and join Katie in her campaign to save a rare fox.

Reviewed by : Adrian Murphy

This review is part of a Random Things Blog Tour. To see what the other reviewers thought, visit their blogs listed below. Then, if you get a copy and read it, come back and tell us what you think. We’d really appreciate the feedback.

GRIFFITHS SECOND BOOK LIES EASILY WITH ME, IF ONLY THE ENDING WAS A BETTER FIT.

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A Place To Lie CoverI seem to be having a run of family secret and particularly sister relationship novels to read. Either via my  book club or The Library Door; they keep coming. A feminine spin on things would appear to be 2019’s trademark, with remakes for films using female lead characters instead of the original, male ones and a raft of strong female leads in film and TV.

A place to Lie, by Rebecca Griffiths published in paperback by Sphere (www.littlebrown.co.uk) on the 19th August, is this month’s third book review and tells the story of a summer in the childhood of two sisters.

Told in the present day and in flashback to 1990, we unravel a complex series of events, which result in two deaths and the destruction of many lives. The story begins with the death of Caroline, who believed she was being stalked. Having lost contact with her sister a decade earlier, Joanna is at first guilt-ridden. She starts to look into Caroline’s recent history and begins to think there might be a link between current events and what happened in the summer of 1990. Joanna and Caroline are sent to stay with their Aunt Dora for the summer, after the death of their father and an attempted suicide by their grieving mother. Left to their own devices by their aunt, they indulge in childhood games and adventures, with a local girl, Ellie. Going unsupervised and unnoticed, they observe the odd and furtive behavior of many of the local inhabitants. Caroline who has a crush on Ellie’s older brother and believes he reciprocates her feelings is horrified to find he has a girlfriend. When Ellie disappears, the sister’s question the motives of everyone around them and Caroline makes an accusation that affects the futures of all involved. Joanna’s present-day enquiries uncover some unpleasant truths and put her in the sights of a killer….

Another complicated sister relationship here. Whereas in Sister of Mine by Laurie Petrou, reviewed previously on this site, whose story was told through the eyes of one of the sister’s, giving I felt, a biased perspective to events, this story is told in the third person. There were lots of sinister characters here. The subject of child grooming and paedophilia loomed large. It was interesting to read how, despite Caroline’s discomfort around several of the male character’s over friendliness, their behavior was tolerated. I can certainly recall the odd over-familiar family friend, being a bit too cuddly, but as a youngster, being too young to realize the inappropriateness and too polite to make a fuss, you simply put up with it in a different era when lewd comments, bum pinching were accepted. Griffiths makes the most of several instances and suggestions of dodgy men, so that when Ellie is killed you have a raft of suspects. There is also more than a hint of Atonement by Ian McEwan here; with an accusation that is unable to be retracted. Is it entirely unfounded? Who is the perverted killer? Did they strike again?

Rebecca Griffiths Author Pic

Rebecca Griffiths

This is English author Rebecca Griffiths (@rebeccagriffit7) second book after her debut novel, The Primrose Path (2016). After a successful business career which saw her working in London, Dublin and Scotland, she returned to her roots in Mid-Wales with her artist husband , their three vampiric cats and over-sized pet sheep.

I enjoyed this book in the main. The ending and reveal, left me slightly dissatisfied. The ploy of the person you least expect was pushed to an extreme, I felt. The explanations for the other suspects behaviour seemed contrived. I felt a little short changed. Part of the fun of reading a crime thriller is to try and work out who done it before the reveal, and I felt a bit cheated. But at least it was a surprise!

A well written book, which gripped me throughout and which I could see being turned into a TV series or film easily. So, download a copy or nip down your local book shop soon, because I don’t think it will be lying about on the shelves for long.

Reviewed by : Georgina Murphy

This book review is part of a Random Things Blog Tour, to see what the other reviewers thought of it visit their sites listed below. Then, if you get a copy and read it come back and tell us what you thought, we’d love to hear your feedback.

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