ARC REVIEW: The Lost Orphan (The Foundling) – by Stacey Halls

Title: The Lost Orphan
Author: Stacey Halls
Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: April 7th 2020
Publisher: MIRA
Finished reading: March 31st 2020
Pages: 352

“It was the greatest difference between us. To her, money was a pool to drink deeply from. Me, I was parched.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and MIRA in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I confess that I was in the minority last year and somehow I wasn’t that big of a fan of  Stacey Halls‘ debut The Familiars despite being intrigued the premise. After hearing a lot of positive things about her second book The Foundling (or The Lost Orphan), I just couldn’t resist giving her work another go anyway, especially since I was once again intrigued by the blurb. I’m glad I made that decision now, because this story most definitely hit the mark for me.

I’m a fan of the historical fiction genre in general and both the 18th century setting in London and the plot itself were excellently developed in The Lost Orphan. Most historical fiction stories I’ve had the chance to read are set in Victorian London, so it was a nice change of scenery to go back one more century and get a proper glimpse of the 18th century. The descriptions and development of the setting are extensive and really set the right tone for the rest of the story. The story behind the The Foundling hospital and poor women giving up their babies is a tragic one… And Stacey Halls definitely raised an interesting question: in an era where the poor are mostly illiterate, how can the women be certain to ever see their babies again if they want to reclaim them, even if they have a token? This question is the base of the plot of this story, and it was intriguing to see it developed and have both sides of the story explained.

The Lost Orphan uses two different POVs, and this way we get to see both sides of London society as well as both sides of the story of the missing baby. Bess (Eliza) represents the poor and is the one who was forced to give up her baby six years ago as she wasn’t married and the baby’s father was dead. Alexandra represents the wealthy and shows us a widow with mental health issues (including a form of agoraphobia and OCD) trying to raise her only child. The story switches between the two women to help us show both their stories and give us a glimpse of how both the poor and rich lived back then.Their lives meet when Eliza starts working as a nursemaid for Alexandra’s daughter Charlotte… And although the truth about the situation can be guessed easily, the development of both characters, their background and reasons to do what they do really enhanced the story for me. The Lost Orphan is mostly character-driven and focuses on character development and growth rather than including a lot of action… Although the chapters involving Bess (Eliza) are a lot more lively.

I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but what I can say is that if you enjoy well written historical fiction with thoroughly developed and basically flawed characters as well as a story that is both heartbreaking and heartwarming, The Lost Orphan or The Foundling is an excellent choice.


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WWW Wednesdays #262 – April 1st

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

It’s Magical Readathon month again! I’m currently reading The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie for my Herbology exam… I’ve been looking forward to meet up with Hercule Poirot again. I’m also starting Where She Went by Gayle Forman for my Arithmancy exam.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Find Her Alive by Lisa Regan (4,5/5 stars)  REVIEW 07/04
I know that I’m repeating myself, but that doesn’t mean it is less true: the Detective Josie Quinn series is one of my favorite detective series and every time I find out that a new installment is coming out it kind of feels like an early birthday present. It’s been a long and intense ride for Josie Quinn so far, and it seems like trouble keeps finding her in the small town where she works. I’m not complaining of course, as new trouble means a new Josie Quinn book and another rollercoaster thriller ride to look forward to. Find Her Alive is no exception, and is yet another excellent addition to the series. Book number eight is another firecracker!

2. Kilo by Toby Muse (4,5/5 stars) BLOG TOUR REVIEW 
Anyone who is interested in the Colombian drugs world should add this newly published non fiction account to their wishlist, as it turned out to be an absolutely fascinating read. Definitely one of the best drugs-related non fiction reads I’ve had the pleasure to read so far! Read more about my experience in my blog tour review posted earlier today.

3. And So It Begins by Rachel Abbott (4/5 stars) REVIEW 13/04
I’ve been meaning to try one of her books for ages now, and the blog tour of the Stephanie King sequel this month was a perfect excuse to finally do so. I definitely enjoyed my first experience with Rachel Abbott‘s writing, and And So It Begins was a more than satisfying read. More dark psychological thriller than detective thriller (something I didn’t expect), but well written and I’ll definitely be looking forward to read the sequel now.

4. The Lost Orphan (The Foundling) by Stacey Halls (4/5 stars) REVIEW 05/04
I confess I wasn’t that big of a fan of The Familiars last year, but I definitely had a lot more positive experience with her second book The Lost Orphan (also called The Foundling). I’m a fan of historical fiction and the both 18th century setting in London and the plot it self were excellently developed.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

Next up are four more titles for the Magical Readathon… First up is Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan as the publish date is coming close and I’ve been in the mood for fantasy. Next is Sister by Kjell Ola Dahl as the blog tour stop is coming closer… Afterwards, it’s guilty pleasure read with Living Dead In Dallas by Charlaine Harris. I’m not a fan of vampire reads at all, but somehow I love the True Blood TV series anyway and I had a great time with the first book of the series too. I also want to read the second Sherlock Holmes book The Sign Of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle.


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WWW Wednesdays #261 – March 25th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading Josie Quinn book number eight Find Her Alive by Lisa Regan… I have a weak spot for this series and I just couldn’t resist getting a copy of the newest on Netgalley. I’m also starting And So It Begins by Rachel Abbott in preparation for the blog tour of the sequel next month.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. I Am Dust by Louise Beech (5/5 stars) BLOG TOUR REVIEW 18/04
Look out for my review during my stop of the blog tour!

2. She Has A Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be by J.D. Barker (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 28/03
She Has A Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be is as unique as its long title, and the right person will treasure this story as much as I did. I had a fantastic time reading every single chapter, and I never felt like the story was overlong or should have gone in a different direction. Big is in this case most definitely better! And this book has only reconfirmed to me J.D. Barker belongs on my list of favorite authors.

3. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren (4,5/5 stars) NO REVIEW/REREAD
I definitely had a great time revisiting an old childhood favorite of mine. I loved Pippi when I was little and I must have read the book at least a dozen times back then… I remember loving the TV show too, and even dressing up as Pippi during carnaval once. She is a wonderful character most children will be able to connect to instantly!

4. Harry Potter Y Las Reliquias De La Muerte by J.K. Rowling (4,5/5 stars) NO REVIEW/REREAD
I finally completed my Spanish reread of the Harry Potter series! It had been too long since I last read the seventh Harry Potter book and I had forgotten about so many details… I always love revisiting this world and this has been no exception!

5. The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (5/5 stars) REVIEW 04/04
I still can’t believe it took me this long to read this story! I love bookish books and this is without doubt a new favorite. The writing, the bookish elements, the characters, the plot, even the romance… I loved it all.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m picking up the next Hercule Poirot The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd as soon as I finish my current reads… I also need to read the upcoming ARC The Lost Orphan (also known as The Foundling) by Stacey Halls soon. And I don’t think I will be able to resist John Marrs’ newest title What Lies Between Us either even though I have other ARCs I should probably read first haha. I’m also hoping to read Manhunters by Steve Murphy and Javier F. Peña soon, as I have a weird interest in the war on drugs and I loved the Netflix series.


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ARC REVIEW: The Familiars – by Stacey Halls

Title: The Familiars
Author: Stacey Halls
Genre: Historical Fiction, Paranormal
First published: February 19th 2019
Publisher: MIRA
Finished reading: January 26th 2019 
Pages: 352

“Rumour could spread faster than disease, and could be just as destructive.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and MIRA in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I’m a sucker for a good historical fiction story and combine that with a gorgeous cover and I’m sold easily. There was just something about The Familiars that caught my eye immediately and I have been looking forward to finally reading it. While this story started out promising enough with a 1612 setting close to the famous witch trials, somehow my initial excitement for this story soon petered out and sadly I have to admit it failed to blow me away. The Familiars is a slow paced and character driven story where the main focus is on Fleetwood Shuttleworth and her household. Neither the witch trails, witches nor the familiars the story is named after play a big role in this story and are mostly pushed into the background as we have to read all about shallow and quite annoying Fleetwood and the things that happen to her. I was quite disappointed by this lack of focus on the supernatural; not what I was expecting with this title. As for Fleetwood: I know women in the 17th century are treated in a different way and have to be meek, humble and obey their husbands or men in general, but having such a bland main character in a very much character driven story makes it hard to stay invested. I’m not sure all actions were all that credible and the whole love triangle situation deeply annoyed me. The Familiars focuses mostly on both the relationship between Fleetwood and her husband, her widwife Alice and the fact that her unborn child might just be the death of her. The paranormal aspect could have been used to spice up this story, but instead was not developed to its potential and fell flat for me. It’s not a bad read though and fans of romantic historical fiction will probably have a better time than me.

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Young Fleetwood Shuttleworth is pregnant again after suffering three miscarriages. Her husband Richard is desperate for an heir, but so desperate he hides a terrible secret from her? Fleetwood discovers a doctor’s letter with the prediction she will not survive another birth. Not sure how to handle this situation, she finds herself relieved to meet Alice, who promises her she will help Fleetwood deliver a healthy baby. Then Alice is accused of witchcraft and sent to prision, and all hope crumbles… Fleetwood will have to find a way to save Alice in order to save herself.

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What seems to be a historical paranormal fiction story about witches, turns out to be a mostly historical and romantic family drama with only a hint of the supernatural. This lack of a role of the witches, familiars and the witch trials was rather a disappointment for me and not something I expected when I picked up my copy of The Familiars. The fact that Fleetwood was rather dull and lacked a proper personality didn’t really help either, as the story evolved around her and it was hard to keep myself invested in a story when I couldn’t care about the main characters. Having cheating and a love triangle involved didn’t really help either… But if you enjoy character driven and more romantic and family focused historical fiction stories, you will probably end up enjoying it better than I did.


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WWW Wednesdays #207 – January 30th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’ve been neglecting those poor physical copies on my shelves, so I decided to pick up noir classic The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler on a whim. I’m ashamed to admit I hadn’t heard of the author before, but so far my first experience with his work has been interesting. I’m also reading one of my 2019 most anticipated releases Two Can Keep A Secret by Karen M. McManus. So far I’m flying through it!

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Psychology Of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas (4/5 stars) REVIEW 07/02
This story is part sci-fi, part psychology, part murder mystery, part family drama and part romantic fiction. There are a lot of different elements involved in The Psychology Of Time Travel, and somehow they all manage to work together and create a very fascinating debut. The complex plot will have you on your toes as you try to fit everything together, but only in the most positive way. It was interesting to see the different characters evolve over time and the psychology behind time travel is simply intriguing. I loved the details of the time traveler’s slang as well! This book definitely left a mark and will stay with me for quite some time.

2. Exquisite by Sarah Stovell (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 09/02
Exquisite is an excellent psychological thriller that will give you all the feels and will most definitely manage to shock you before you reach the final page. Simply exquisite and absolutely worth the read if you enjoy the genre! I’m definitely kicking myself for waiting this long to finally read it.

3. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandya Menon (4/5 stars) REVIEW 11/02
It might have to do with the fact I was in the mood for a feel-good story, but I enjoyed my time with this story so much better than I thought I would. This story is cute, fluffy, quirky, geeky and has unique characters and that #ownvoices element that seems to be so popular right now. Yay for etnic diversity and interesting characters that represent a different culture in a realistic way! The characters are what made this story into a success for me and I loved reading about Dimple and Rishi’s story. The coding, the comic art, the geeky elements in general… This was just quirky heaven for me.

4. The Familiars by Stacey Halls (3/5 stars) REVIEW 05/02
What seems to be a historical paranormal fiction story about witches, turns out to be a mostly historical and romantic family drama with only a hint of the supernatural. This lack of a role of the witches, familiars and the witch trials was rather a disappointment for me and not something I expected when I picked up my copy of The Familiars. The fact that Fleetwood was rather dull and lacked a proper personality didn’t really help either, as the story evolved around her and it was hard to keep myself invested in a story when I couldn’t care about the main characters. Having cheating and a love triangle involved didn’t really help either… But if you enjoy character driven and more romantic and family focused historical fiction stories, you will probably end up enjoying it better than I did.

5. How To Experience Death For Beginners by Jessica Branton (2/5 stars) REVIEW 08/02
I can’t deny that the idea behind this story is fascinating and shows a lot of promise, but I don’t think the execution lived up to expectations. The paranormal element of How To Experience Death For Beginners, by far the most interesting aspect of this story, lacked development for me as instead we get an uncomfortable mix of different and sometimes cliche elements that fail to combine into a coherent plot. The lack of credibility, the main characters, the way difficult topics were handled… Sadly this story just didn’t work for me.

6. The Shattering by Karen Healey (3/5 stars) REVIEW 11/02
Even though The Shattering didn’t turn out to be a big hit for me, I’m still glad I finally picked it up. This probably has a lot to do with the setting, since I hardly ever seem to read books set in New Zealand. It also doubles as a negative though, because I would have loved to see more local culture and descriptions included. As it is, The Shattering feels more like a melting pot filled to the brim with different story elements and bits and pieces, making each feel superficial and underdeveloped. The story itself has a lot of potential, with the paranormal aspect, the secrets of Summerton and three different POVs to follow. But with so many different elements distracting you, the story didn’t come out as strong as I thought it would be.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m definitely picking up What The Wind Knows by Amy Harmon next as she is one of my favorite authors and I’m dying to read her newest story. I’m also planning on making good to my promise to read more Agatha Christie and pick up the second Hercule Poirot book The Murder On The Links. And to further reduce my ARC pile, I’m also picking up An American Marriage by Tayari Jones soon (I’m not sure which cover I prefer…) And I have a new TBR jar pick: Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson.


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