Review: The Song Walker

Written by Zillah Bethell
Cover and inside illustration by Saara Söderlund
Published by Usborne Publishing

The Song Walker is an absolutely stunning, transcendent, and deeply moving story:  a story of friendship, of courage and of hope set in the fierce beauty of the Australian Outback that held me spellbound throughout.  I have no doubt whatsoever that this will be one of my books of 2023!

A young girl walks aimlessly through the relentless heat of the Australian Outback having no memory of who she is, nor why or how she got there.  Wearing one black shoe, a silky black dress and carrying a locked metallic case, she is woefully ill-equipped to face the fiercely beautiful and dangerous landscape.  Waking from the coldness of the night to the merciless heat of the morning sun, she meets Tarni, a First Country Australian, and so begins the most incredible, awe-inspiring, and courageous journey …

And oh my goodness – what a deadly journey the girls have undertaken!  The tense anticipation, the glimpses into each girl’s secrets, the twists, revelations and danger:  at times, I had my heart in my mouth and, at others, tears streamed down my face. I wish I could say more, but I really don’t want to give away any spoilers.  Suffice to say that this is an unforgettable story that sang its way into my heart, and left an indelible impression. 

In their own ways, both girls are trapped and lost, and are undertaking a quest to find what is most important to them whilst at the same time struggling with what it means to lose your sense of self and to reclaim your identity.   The friendship between the girls is beautifully realised and so authentic as they begin to open up to each other, as they grapple with the ups and downs of forming bonds of sisterhood, dealing with thorny issues, falling outs, compromise and really getting to know and understand each other.  They find a lasting, empathetic friendship as they wander across the desert, gradually building trust and understanding more about each other’s lives and the people they want to become.  I was completely gripped by their plight, by their courage and resilience as they fight for survival, face heart-stopping dangerous situations and reveal each other’s secrets. 

Memory and music both play an important part in this story.  For one of the girl’s, her memories of her past life and who she is are trapped, only being triggered in dream flashbacks and sparked by the contents of the case she carries.  They show her regrets, fear, loneliness and confusion which she needs to piece together and build into a new song for her life. Tarni’s memories are related to her identity and cultural heritage as a First Country Australian, following the path of song maps left by her ancestors and respecting the land, the history and the mysticism that is her birth right.

The Song Walker is a story that beats to its own poignant and heartfelt pulse that encapsulates friendship, pain, identity and hope in the most remarkable, unmissable and unforgettable adventure. An absolute masterpiece!

Thank you to Fritha Lindqvist and Usborne for a proof copy in exchange for my honest opinion.  I have now bought a gorgeous finished copy for my class library.

January Wrap-Up

And January’s over – it always seems like three months rolled into one! Maybe that explains why it’s been my best reading month for ages! It’s not all been books – I’ve also enjoyed some great TV: Only Murder in the Buildings, Happy Valley and The Last of Us.

Books I’ve read:

I’ve read 16 books this month including 8 from my Beat the Backlist Challenge (48 left!):

  • The Vanishing of Aveline Jones
  • My Story: Princess Sophia Duleep Singh
  • The Tower at the End of Time
  • Tyger
  • The Secret of Haven Point
  • Twitch
  • A Girl Called Justice: The Spy at the Window
  • Furthermoor

The two that have really stuck with me are Twitch and Furthermoor for very different reasons. Twitch is just the most brilliant mystery adventure with wonderful twists and such a likeable character in Twitch. I really did love everything about this, and have been recommending it in school. Furthermoor is such a thought-provoking story with heart-breaking themes of bullying and grief and really explores the power of the imagination. This would make a brilliant read-aloud for a mature Year 6 class or a reading group.

NetGalley:

I’ve got another badge from NetGalley – my approved badge as I have been auto-approved by four publishers which I’m very grateful for – and it gives me instant access to some wonderful upcoming books. My ratio is currently at 96% and I’ve added one new book to my shelf:

Books sent by publishers:

I am grateful to have been sent six books by Publishers this month.

Books bought:

I’m trying really hard not to buy too many books each month as I have so, so many to catch up on, but still managed seven – but I’ve read 2: The Song Walker and No Place for Monsters. I’m aiming to read some more of these over half term.

How has your reading month been? Have you read any of these? Have you any of them on your TBR?

WWW Wednesday

I’ve loved Nicola Penfold’s previous two books, and have just started Beyond the Frozen Horizon.

I devoured The Time Tider over a couple of days and absolutely loved it! The main character, Mara, is wonderful and I really enjoyed the whole concept of unused time. I will be posting my review and a piece from Sinead during the Blog Tour next week. I absolutely loved Twitch, so when I saw Spark on my library app, I had to borrow it. The Twitchers have another crime to solve whilst/during trying to protect a rare bird. This adventure is more focussed on Jack as he leads the investigation. I love the interactions between the children, the brilliant building of the mystery and M G Leonard’s narration is fantastic. I’m so looking forward to the next book in the series, Clutch which will be released in April. I’ve had October, October since it was first released, but just never got round to reading it. Oh my goodness – that was a mistake! It is absolutely stunning and such a heartachingly, beautifully told story. This is both a heart-warming and a heart-breaking story as October comes to terms with the changes in her life (after having to go to live with her mother in London when her father becomes seriously injured at their isolated home in the woods) and searches for the wildness that makes her feel safe. I can definitely see why this won the Yoto Carnegie Medal 2022.

I love Barbara Henderson’s historical fiction, and am really looking forward to reading her next one, Rivet Boy which is set during the building of the Forth Bridge.

What are you reading? Have you read any of these?

First Lines Fridays

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

We find the owl at the very edge of our woods the morning after the storm. Wind-blasted and wings flight-frozen and round eyes glassy. I touch its feathers lightly with my fingertip and I’m surprised because they still feel real even though the owl has slipped away somewhere else and Dad is already digging a hole for it in the rain-soaked earth.

Any ideas?

I’ve had this since it was first published and can’t believe I haven’t read it yet. I’m absolutely loving it!

Goodreads Synopsis:

October and her dad live in the woods. They sleep in the house Dad built for them and eat the food they grow in the vegetable patches. They know the trees and the rocks and the lake and stars like best friends. They read the books they buy in town again and again until the pages are soft and yellow – until next year’s town visit. They live in the woods and they are wild. And that’s the way it is. Until the year October turns eleven. That’s the year October rescues a baby owl. It’s the year Dad falls out of the biggest tree in their woods. The year the woman who calls herself October’s mother comes back. The year everything changes.

WWW Wednesday

Strictly speaking, I haven’t started this yet, but I will be this evening.

I finished listening to Twitch which I really, really enjoyed, so much so that I’ve just downloaded Spark which I’ll be listening to next.

I also finished The Song Walker which is so emotive and powerful. I’m trying to find the words for a review which does it justice!

I saw No Place for Monsters in Waterstones on Saturday and picked it up as I thought there are definitely children in my class who will love it. I try to read all the books I put in my class library so I started this – and finished it in an evening. There are lots of illustrations which makes it a much quicker read than 384 pages would suggest! Children are going missing in Cowslip Grove and their families, friends and teachers don’t remember them. It is up to Levi and his friend Kat (both wonderful characters) to work out what has happened to them with a little help from the monsters. Such a fun read!

I listened to Furthermoor and also read a physical copy in the evenings. Wow! This is the most incredible story dealing with grief and the most horrific bullying. Bren’s sister Evie has died, and he is being bullied. In order to hide from/cope with both, he has created an imaginary world (a beautiful mechanical forest with clockwork animals) where Evie is alive and where he can escape from his grief and pain and feelings of helplessness, but when Featherly arrives in Furthermoor, he discovers that he is no longer safe there … My heart ached for Bren who is paralysed by fear and shame at being bullied whilst also trying to cope with the death of his sister. This would make a brilliant class read, rich with opportunities for discussion, and is one I will be reading to my class in the summer term.

Finally, I read the fourth book in the A Girl Called Justice series, The Spy at the Window. This time, the Second World War has just begun and Justice is back in Highbury House School with her friends – but this time a boys’ school has come to stay. It is not long before Justice finds herself in the midst of a mystery, and one very close to home, as she discovers that there may be a spy in their midst. I love this series: the setting, the friendships and the intriguing mysteries.

I’m going to listen to the audiobook of Spark which is read by the author, and also try to read Beyond the Frozen Horizon which is the Primary School Book Club choice for January.

What are you reading? Have you read any of these?

#SixForSunday

I’ve just found the prompts for Six for Sunday, hosted by A Little But a Lot so thought I’d start taking part again. Today’s prompt if for Debuts you read last year. I’ve had a look at my Goodreads shelf for last year, and found that I read quite a lot of debuts. These are six that I reviewed and really enjoyed.

Small! is BIG on hilarity, heart and hope – with a good dollop of yuckiness, smelliness and zaniness.  A tasty treat of an adventure which delighted me, grossed me out ever so slightly and left me with a giant grin!

Read my full review here.

Mia and the Lightcasters is a thrilling, deliciously scary fantasy adventure:  an edge-of-your-seat, exhilarating quest into darkness and light that kept me enthralled throughout. 

You can read my full review here.

The Secret Wild is an exciting, action-paced eco-adventure, rooted in friendship and courage, that completely captivated me as I became enveloped in the wonder and mystery of this enchanting adventure.

You can read my full review here.

Hedgewitch is a gorgeously bewitching adventure that completely enthralled me:  an adventure brimming with witchy delights, Faerie tricks and nature-inspired magic.

You can read my full review here.

Yesterday Crumb and the Storm in a Teacup is a magical, sparkling gem of an adventure that kept me enthralled throughout:   gorgeously heart-warming, wonderfully whimsical and completely captivating. 

You can read my full review here.

The Map of Leaves is a thrilling, wild-hearted adventure which utterly gripped me:  a story of nature, healing, accepting friendship and fighting back.  An extraordinary adventure that is perfect for nature-lovers and adventurers of 9+.

You can read my full review here.

February anticipated children’s book releases

What a fantastic month February promises to be for children’s book releases. I’m looking forward to releases by both favourite, debut and new-to-me authors as well as continuations of series I’ve loved (Like a Curse, Nightspark). I’ve been lucky enough to have early reads of a couple of these (The Song Walker and Wildsmith –both of which I can highly recommend , and have a few others ready to read in time for release (The Time Tider, The Stickleback Catchers and The Rescue of Ravenwood). I’m looking forward to getting copies of all of these to add to my ever-growing class library after I’ve had a read!

I have taken the synopsis for each of these from the Waterstones website.

James loves dancing, poetry, and Mariah Carey (not in that order, though, because Mariah would obviously be first!). His teacher, Mr Hamilton, is getting married to his boyfriend and it seems that James will be part of a surprise choir performance at the wedding.  But James’s father seems uncomfortable about the plan, and a lot of other things – like any mention of Mr Hamilton, and James’s dancing, and how James talks about his new friend Joel. Meanwhile, a different boy has been harassing James at school and calling him gay, and it’s getting worse every day. James can find relief with his beloved Nan, she’s been having worrying falls, and James can’t tell anyone, or she might be sent to a faraway care home.  The secrets are building up, and James is starting to lose his characteristic spark. Can he find the strength to let the truth out? A joyful, raw and timely novel about family, friends, enemies, and being true to who you really are.

“There are three questions that I need to find the answers to: Where am I? What am I doing here? And… Who am I?” When a young girl wakes up in the middle of the desert, she has no idea who she is. She’s wearing one shoe, a silky black dress, and she’s carrying a strange, heavy case. She meets Tarni, who is on a mysterious quest of her own. Together, the two girls trek across the vast and ever-changing Australian Outback in search of answers. Except both are also hiding secrets…

1884. Emma Linden dreams of following in the footsteps of the famous fossil-hunter, Mary Anning on the Jurassic Coast. But Emma’s world begins to spiral when her brother James becomes obsessed with a glassy-eyed tiger at the museum. More than a hundred years later, her descendant Rosie Linden goes missing, her mind full of prowling tigers. With her new friend Jude, Rosie uncovers family secrets buried like layer upon layer of rock. Together they must sift the past to find the truth and heal the present.

Stuck in Loch Ness while Edinburgh falls under the control of a terrifyingly powerful Siren, Ramya Knox is frustrated. She’s supposed to be learning magic from her Aunt Opal, but that isn’t going as smoothly as she’d hoped. As she pushes to rescue her Hidden Folk friends in the city, long-buried secrets come to light and legends come to life.  Ramya knows she’s different; she knows she’s a witch. But now she must learn the true meaning of her powers… before all she loves is lost.

When war threatens her beloved city, Rowan and her mother must flee to the Dark Forest, meeting Grandpa and his white wolf Arto for the first time.  Though she misses her father, Rowan makes new friends – including a trio of powerful witches. When she rescues a baby dragon from poachers, she discovers the secret of her own identity. Could Rowan really be a wildsmith?  Fostering a whole clutch of dragons, the summer speeds by. But when danger threatens, Rowan and Grandpa must call on all their friends for help.

Can one boy with no memories save the world?  In the Earth world, a boy dreams of faraway lands to escape life with his horrible aunt. In the Elf world, he wakes up with a mysterious golden torch but without any clue who he is …except for the compass he pulls from his pocket, engraved with one name: Jayben.  Jayben discovers that many moons ago, a giant put a dark spell on the golden torch, and the elves forgot everything that had come before. Now they hang precious memories in jars on trees, just to try to remember. But a new darkness grows among them.  An evil villain called Null is burning down the forests, hellbent on finding the torch and becoming the most powerful being ever to live. If Jayben can find his own magic and ignite the torch with its fierce violet flame, his power will be unstoppable … Can Jayben save the world before the lights go out forever?

Mimi adores her wild, fun, full-of-life gran. Then Gran starts forgetting things. Suddenly there are cracks appearing all around their home – and a mysterious black crow – both of which only Mimi seems able to see.  Mimi is determined to solve the mystery. Luckily she has new friends to help: Titch and Nusrat. Together, they’re the Stickleback Catchers: solvers of puzzles and seekers of adventure.  Down by the river, where the gang meet and the silvery sticklebacks swim, they discover a mysterious stone, speckled with stars. But this is no ordinary stone: it’s the doorway to another world, a world of talking crows and secrets, magical constellations and memories – and maybe, just maybe, Mimi’s chance to bring back Gran forever.

Mara and her dad have lived in their van for as long as she can remember. Whatever her father does to scrape a living has kept them constantly moving and Mara has never questioned it. That is until she uncovers a collection of notes addressed to ‘the Tider’, an individual responsible for harvesting lost time from people whose lives were cut short.  But before Mara can question her father, he is taken by a dangerous group who want to use his power for evil. With the very fabric of time and space at stake, it’s down to Mara and her new friend Jan to find him before it’s too late…

Being bad has never felt so good!  The first in a villainously funny, highly illustrated young middle-grade series from author-illustrator Ryan Hammond. For fans of Amelia Fang, Dog Man and Grimwood.  Welcome to Villains Academy the most prestigious villain school in the entire land. You will either leave here as a fully-formed villain . . . or in tatters.  It’s werewolf Bram’s first day at Villains Academy. He really doesn’t feel like a villain at all, but the coveted Villain of the Week trophy is up for grabs, and Bram knows he’ll have to dig deep. With the help of new friends Mona the elf-witch, Bryan the lion, Shelia the ghost and Tony the skeleton, can Bram find his inner badness and become the villain he’s always dreamed of being?

On the day they are born, each Swift is brought before the sacred Family Dictionary. They are given a name and a definition, and it is assumed they will grow up to match. Unfortunately, Shenanigan Swift has other ideas. So what if her relatives all think she’s destined to turn out as a troublemaker, just because of her name? Shenanigan knows she can be whatever she wants – pirate, explorer or even detective. Which is lucky, really, because when one of the Family tries to murder Arch-Aunt Schadenfreude, someone has to work out whodunit. With the help of her sisters and cousin, Shenanigan grudgingly takes on the case, but more murders, a hidden treasure and an awful lot of suspects make thing seriously complicated.  Can Shenanigan catch the killer before the whole household is picked off? And in a Family where definitions are so important, can she learn to define herself?

Gruff and his new friend Matylda live on a small island off the Welsh coast, where legends are beginning to stir. Islanders find themselves irresistibly drawn to the Sleeping Stones, a line of rocks like stepping stones out to sea, and Gruff and Mat soon realise they must risk everything to save each other and their community from a terrifying storm driven by an ancient, magic anger.

Vita longs to write the plays that she steals off to watch – but as the daughter of a high-born Roman, her only future is marriage. When her father is murdered, everything changes. She escapes with her life – only to end up a slave, sharing a cell with a fierce gladiator, Brea, and her wolf. But when Vita and Brea discover they have a common enemy, they know they must stand together for truth and justice …  Vita, nicknamed ‘Little Owl’ by her father, is an unlikely hero – but when her father is murdered, she has to uncover the truth, even if it means finding unlikely friends Themes of deceit, storytelling and fighting justice.

The year is 2425. Centuries after a catastrophic meteor collision, nature has retaken the earth. In a small town in what was once England, young Ocean Mooney and the monkey-owning Duke Smiff have just dug up a 400 year-old tablet computer.  Meanwhile, in the present day, Thomas Reeve and his genius cousin Kylie create the Time Tablet – a device which they hope will allow them to communicate with the future.  But when the Time Tablet malfunctions live on television, Thomas and Kylie are sucked into the year 2425 – and have only 24 hours to return home, and save the future of humanity.

Having escaped from the half-bombed, blackened power station where he was being imprisoned, 12-year-old Luke is finally reunited with his family above ground. But though Luke tries to readjust, he can’t shake the guilt he feels for his friend Ravi, who was left behind, nor the feeling that someone – or something – is watching him from the shadows.  With the help of ghost-girl named Alma and his friend Jess, Luke must journey across the country and sea to find Ravi, the friend who was there for him in his darkest hours. And in doing so, he must face his past and confront his deepest fears…

A desperate village. A child who emerges from the marshes. A falcon that helps her save them all.  When the child emerges from the wilderness, no one in the village knows what to do with her. She is odd – half-wild, without speech and seems to have an unnatural bond with animals – especially the falcon, who is always circling above her. The Wise-Woman takes her in, and names her Rhodd, but the rest of the villagers remain suspicious.  Over the years, as Rhodd grows, the village realises that the river, which is their connection to the wider world, is beginning to die, and eventually a dark sickness begins to spread. Soon, too soon, the villagers turn their suspicion on Rhodd and her falcon.  And so, Rhodd sets out to discover what – or who – is causing the river to dry up . . . to protect her mother, her falcon and herself.

Ravenwood. A place where things happen . . . On the top of the hill, overlooking the sea, that’s where you’ll find a magical place . . . To Bea and Raffy, Ravenwood is home. In its own way, the house rescued them, even if it did have a fallen-down tree taking up most of the kitchen. So the idea that it could be sold. Demolished even. Well, that’s unthinkable. Then again, it’s not like the children get a choice. But the truth is, we can all make our own choices, especially if we care enough . . .

Welcome to Haarville — if you’ve arrived, you’ve survived. Off the grid and not on the maps, it’s a place shrouded in fog and steeped in pungent pongs. Everything here smells fishy, especially the town’s suspicious new arrivals.  Twelve-year-old Manx Fearty is an orphan (his family has a terrible habit of dying, terribly), and now he’s about to lose their perpetual device shop to sinister newcomers claiming to be long-lost relatives. As he sets out to prove them wrong, Manx finds himself on the trail of a murky, mist-muddled mystery — and it’s one he needs to solve fast, otherwise Haarville is doomed.  With the help of his fiercely protective drag-queen guardian Father G (aka the fabulous Gloria in Excelsis), loyal best friend Fantoosh, and oystercatcher-with-attitude Olu, Manx wades through secrets, schemes and some stomach-churning seafood. Can he save both his family’s legacy and his town?

Thirteen-year-old Anna is upset when she is sent to stay with her dad and his new family at Fairy Hill in the west of Ireland. Hearing whispers in the wind, Anna senses she is being watched, but nobody believes her except the mysterious boy down by the lake. When her little half-brother, Jack, nearly gets lost, Anna suspects that someone is trying to steal him away. She wonders if the stories about the old house and the fairies are true. And if they are, could Jack be in real danger?

Do any of these catch your interest? What are your most anticipated books for February? What have I missed that you would recommend?

Review: The Wildstorm Curse

Written by Eve Wersocki Morris
Cover Illustration by Paola Escobar
Map Illustration by Kristyna Litten
Published by Hodder & Stoughton (an imprint of Hachette Children’s Group)

A fabled witch. A powerful curse. A monster out for revenge.

The Wildstorm Curse is a dark, dangerous and mesmerising adventure with an ominous air of mystery that made it an utterly unputdownable, gripping read.

13-year-old Kallie is spending a week of her summer holidays at Wildstorm Theatre Camp, having won a playwriting competition to take part in the production being staged at the village theatre.  As Kallie sleeps in a tent in the meadow behind Hollowstar House, she is unaware of the awakening of an ancient creature in the woodland above the village of Merricombe, a creature seeking revenge …

Despite a strange dream, Kallie wakes feeling refreshed and excited as she loves the theatre and is working towards her dream of becoming a playwright. She soon meets Emilia Masters whose mother is the play director and owner of the theatre.  Emilia tells her that the villagers think that the theatre has been cursed by a 17th Century witch, Ellsabet Graveheart, who lived in the village when the theatre was first built – and she has written the play that the cast are performing, a play that has never-before been performed.

So begins a terrifically thrilling, spine-tingling adventure as danger edges ever closer, as secrets are unearthed and unexpected truths are revealed. Will Kallie and her friends be able to defeat an ancient power intent on destroying the village?  Can the pen and storytelling prove more powerful than the enchantments of a vengeful entity?  I don’t want to give any spoilers, but suffice to say that this really is a page-turner, intricate in its masterful weaving of both past and present, of the supernatural and the workings of a theatre production.  I loved the slow, suspense-laden reveal of Ellsabet’s story as the theatre production rehearses and as history is in danger of repeating itself.  Just superb!

Kallie is a wonderful young protagonist.  She is determined to not let her dyslexia hold her back from fulfilling her dream of becoming a playwright.  My heart ached for her as she burned with embarrassment at admitting to her friend Emilia that she is dyslexic, and I adored Emilia’s response which is one that I wholeheartedly agree with:

Who cares about spelling when you’re taking people on an adventure.

Whilst Kallie would rather write adventures, she finds herself living in one, finding the courage to face her fears and seek the truth with the help of her wonderfully supportive friend, Emilia. And I just have to mention Smudge – absolutely adored him!

I adored the heart-warming messages in this story:  the strength of friendship; the power of storytelling to transform and reveal; and, having the courage to follow, and fight for, your dreams.

A must-read exhilarating, captivating adventure for readers of 9+, this is one I cannot recommend highly enough.

Thank you to Anna at Hachette Children’s Group for providing me with a proof copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

WWW Wednesday

I am listening to Twitch whilst on my journey to and from work and then reading a physical copy in the evenings. I can’t believe I haven’t picked this up before. I’m absolutely loving it and am totally invested in seeing how Twitch deals with the convict (someone who I assume we are meant to know early on as a reader – unless I’ve got it completely wrong!). I think the bullying theme within the story is perfect to open up class discussions. I started The Song Walker at the weekend and am about half way through. It’s absolutely wonderful, but I need to save the rest until I can sit down and read it in one sitting – which will be Saturday!

I read The Secret of Haven Point through a combination of audio and physical copy. I’m so glad I’ve decided to take part in the Beat the Backlist Challenge as otherwise this may just have sat on my reading shelves as I read new releases. I absolutely loved this and found myself getting up before work to read a couple of chapters. I enjoyed the friendships which felt realistic and thought the sense of peril was built up brilliantly with a few red herrings. I think there’s scope for more in this world.

I’ve adored all of Sinead’s books, so I’m really looking forward to picking up The Time Tider next.

What are you reading? Have you read any of these?

First Lines Fridays

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Wildoak Forest was whisper-still. Spiderwebs glistened in the half-light, dipped in frost. Soft white snowflakes drifted down without a sound. Badgers huddled deep in their setts. A tawny owl swooped between the black-and-white branches, quiet as a ghost. And deep beneath the layers of fresh white snow and rich brown earth, the ancient trees spoke to one another, through a tapestry of roots and veins no finer than a spool of gossamer thread.

Any ideas?

I bought this one last weekend – the cover really is stunning with gorgeous red foil detail.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Maggie Stephens’s stutter makes school especially hard. She will do almost anything to avoid speaking in class or calling attention to herself. So when her unsympathetic father threatens to send her away for so-called “treatment,” she reluctantly agrees to her mother’s intervention plan: a few weeks in the fresh air of Wildoak Forest, visiting a grandfather she hardly knows. It is there, in an extraordinary twist of fate, that she encounters an abandoned snow leopard cub, an exotic gift to a wealthy Londoner that proved too wild to domesticate. But once the cub’s presence is discovered by others, danger follows, and Maggie soon realizes that time is running out, not only for the leopard, but for herself and the forest as well.