February Reads 2022

A tightly curated collection, all longed for and part of my Christmas list. I knew I would loved each and every one of these and this month has been small and perfect.


In the order I read them, they are:

Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley

The Smallest Man by Frances Quinn

The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper



Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Published Jan 2022 by Oneworld Publications


Official Blurb

Eighteen-year-old Daunis' mixed heritage has always made her feel like an outsider, both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. When she witnesses a shocking murder, she reluctantly agrees to be part of a covert FBI operation into a series of drug-related deaths. But the deceptions - and deaths - keep piling up and soon the threat strikes too close to home. Now Daunis must decide what it means to be a strong Anishinaabe kwe (Ojibwe woman) and how far she'll go to protect her community, even if it tears apart the only world she's ever known.


My Review

This is a massive book! 490 or so pages and in teeny tiny print. For the first few chapters I nearly gave up. (I didn't like the writing style which felt too explain-y and I have new varifocals that meant that nothing was ever quite in focus). So, so glad I didn't. The writing becomes better and better, with truly beautiful observations about nature in amongst a very exciting plot with characters I totally rooted for. The Native American language, heritage and customs were so interesting and I felt genuinely bereft after finishing it.

This is going to be a series on Netflix, so read it, now.

(But, make sure it's the kindle version if you like bigger fonts.)


My Rating

5 stars



The Smallest Man by Frances Quinn

Published by Simon and Schuster Ltd


Official Blurb

I want you to remember something, Nat. You're small on the outside. But inside you're as big as everyone else. You show people that and you won't go far wrong in life.

My name is Nat Davy. Perhaps you've heard of me? There was a time when people up and down the land knew my name, though they only ever knew half the story.

The year of 1625, it was, when a single shilling changed my life. That shilling got me taken off to London, where they hid me in a pie, of all things, so I could be given as a gift to the new queen of England.

They called me the queen's dwarf, but I was more than that. I was her friend, when she had no one else, and later on, when the people of England turned against their king, it was me who saved her life. When they turned the world upside down, I was there, right at the heart of it, and this is my story.

Inspired by a true story, and spanning two decades that changed England for ever, The Smallest Man is a heartwarming tale about being different, but not letting it hold you back. About being brave enough to take a chance, even if the odds aren't good. And about how, when everything else is falling apart, true friendship holds people together.


My Review

I love historical fiction as you know and this is such an usual story, and all the more powerful for being based on a real person. Queen Henrietta's dwarf was called Jeffrey Hudson and really was presented to the King and Queen by the Duke of Buckingham in a pie. Not much is known about him, but this re-imagined story works well and fits with what little we do know. It's about bravery, adventure and romance and the turbulent political situation is an exciting backdrop.

Highly recommend.


My Rating

5 stars



The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper

Published Sept 2021 by Head of Zeus


Official Blurb

Sold by her mother. Enslaved in Pompeii's brothel. Determined to survive. Her name is Amara. Welcome to the Wolf Den...

Amara was once a beloved daughter, until her father's death plunged her family into penury. Now she is a slave in Pompeii's infamous brothel, owned by a man she despises. Sharp, clever and resourceful, Amara is forced to hide her talents. For now her only value lies in the desire she can stir in others.

But Amara's spirit is far from broken. By day, she walks the streets with the Wolf Den's other women, finding comfort in the laughter and dreams they share. For the streets of Pompeii are alive with opportunity. Out here, even the lowest slave can secure a reversal in fortune. Amara has learnt that everything in this city has its price. But how much is her freedom going to cost her?

Set in Pompeii's lupanar, The Wolf Den is the first in a trilogy of novels reimagining the lives of women who have long been overlooked. Perfect for fans of Pat Barker's The Silence of the Girls and Madeline Miller's Circe.


My Review

Throughout reading this I was trying to remember the lay out of streets and buildings in Pompeii. I have only visited once and it was too hot to linger and I wish I'd seen the graffiti that is often quoted at the beginning of Elodie Harper's chapters.

The world Amara finds herself in is harsh and primitive in many ways but there is also refinement and sophistication and she chases this, knowing there is security in knowledge and wealth. She is a complex character and one the reader has huge sympathy with, but equally her antagonists are very much shaped by the time and circumstance and elicited my sympathy also.

Women like Amara are out there still, and modern re-tellings such as this and the plays I reviewed not that long ago Lela & Co and Freak are stark examples. I can't wait to read The House with the Golden Door. Get the hard back if you can as it comes with an orange ribbon place marker ...you know what I mean.


My Rating

5 stars




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