THE WITCH ELM by Bestselling Author TANA FRENCH Audiobook Review

Title: THE WITCH ELM

Author: TANA FRENCH

Narrator: PAUL NUGENT

Genre: FICTION, MYSTERIES AND THRILLERS

Length: 22 HOURS, 8 MINUTES

Publisher: PENGUIN AUDIO

Type of Book: AUDIOBOOK

Purchased from: Audible.com

Release Date: OCTOBER 9, 2018

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Toby is a happy-go-lucky charmer who’s dodged a scrape at work and is celebrating with friends when the night takes a turn that will change his life – he surprises two burglars who beat him and leave him for dead. Struggling to recover from his injuries, beginning to understand that he might never be the same man again, he takes refuge at his family’s ancestral home to care for his dying uncle Hugo. Then a skull is found in the trunk of an elm tree in the garden – and as detectives close in, Toby is forced to face the possibility that his past may not be what he has always believed.

A spellbinding standalone from one of the best suspense writers working today, The Witch Elm asks what we become, and what we’re capable of, when we no longer know who we are.
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MY REVIEW:

Phenomenal. Intriguing. Unconventional. Thrilling. Astonishing.

All these words and more apply to Tana French’s novel, THE WITCH ELM.

At it’s core, this book is a modern day whodunit, a thriller of epic proportions, but it is also so much more.

This book is a character study, a tale of teen angst, the story of a family rallying together in the midst of a horrific medical diagnosis. It is the story of a romance. This is a book about siblings, cousins, friends and how relationships can change over time and how they stay the same. It is also a mystery wrapped in an enigma.

This is truly a book that has everything. I enjoyed listening to it immensely. The story takes place in Ireland and having a narrator with an Irish accent gave this book a sense of place and added authenticity to the audiobook.

The story has plenty twists and turns, some which were expected and many that were not.

Tana French has created characters so realistic that you almost expect to run into one of them on the street.

At just over 22 hours of listening time, this is not a short audiobook and you would think that 22 hours would be too long, however, you would be wrong. In fact, I didn’t want this story to end. I had become invested in the character’s futures.

The Publisher has created a reader’s guide for this book which can be found and downloaded HERE.

My favorite character was Uncle Hugo. On the surface he seems like a giant bore. But as you learn more about him, you start to realize that he is like an onion with many layers, some quite shocking. He has a passion for genealogy research and was able to parlay that into a career as a Genealogist. The author is somehow able to make this career choice seem interesting to listeners and Hugo’s research into his client’s history is an interesting side storyline.

I rate THE WITCH ELM as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I also give a 5 STAR rating to the narrator whose Irish accent offers listeners authenticity as well as a sense of place. His pacing is sheer perfection. Listeners are able to easily distinguish between character voices which is a huge plus in my opinion.

All in all, I highly recommend this audiobook to readers and listeners from the ages of 16 and up.

Tana French was new to me before experiencing “The Witch Elm” audiobook, but I will be on the lookout for more books from this author in the future.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tana French is the author of The Witch Elm, In the Woods, The Likeness, Faithful Place, Broken Harbor, The Secret Place and The Trespasser.

Her books have won awards including the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity and Barry Awards, the Los Angeles Times Award for Best Mystery/Thriller, and the Irish Book Award for Crime Fiction.

She lives in Dublin with her family.

AUTHOR NOTE:

“There’s one thing that no one I know, including me, ever has enough of: time. Everyone has at least three things they should be doing with every minute, and everyone could do with about six more hours in the day. So I’m very aware that when you take a chance on one of my books, it’s not just your money that you’re putting on the line; it’s your time, which is probably even more precious. I want to thank you, so much, for taking that chance; for your wonderful support, which never stops taking my breath away. Here’s to all of you. I’ll do my absolute best not to waste your time.”

Tana French in The New Yorker

‘The Trespasser’ begs us to take crime fiction seriously

The Millions Interviews Tana French

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“A spellbinding standalone from one of the best suspense writers working today, The Witch Elm asks what we become, and what we’re capable of, when we no longer know who we are.

  • Quotes:

    The thing is, I suppose,” he said, “that one gets into the habit of being oneself. It takes some great upheaval to crack that shell and force us to discover what else might be underneath. What if I never got another day in my life when I was normal again?

    Once the fear took hold, I was fucked. I’d never known anything like it could exist: all-consuming, ravenous, a whirling black vortex that sucked me under so completely and mercilessly that it truly felt like I was being devoured alive, bones splintered, marrow sucked. After an eternity (lying in bed with my heart jackhammering, adrenaline firing me like a strobe light, feeling the last few threads that held my mind together stretch to a snapping point) something would happen to break the vortex’s hold—a nurse coming in so that I had to make mechanical cheerful chitchat, an uncontrollable rush of sleep—and I would clamber up out of it, shaky and weak as a half-drowned animal. But even when the fear receded for a while, it was always there: dark, misshapen, taloned, hanging somewhere above and behind me, waiting for its next moment to drop onto my back and dig in deep.

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    https://vimeo.com/178172746

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    HUNTING THE SATURDAY NIGHT STRANGLER by Author and Ex-Law Enforcement Officer C.M. WENDLEBOE is NOW AVAILABLE and it is one heck of a mystery

    Title: HUNTING THE SATURDAY NIGHT STRANGLER

    Series: A BITTER WIND MYSTERY (BOOK TWO)

    Author: C.M. WENDLEBOE

    Genre: FICTION, THRILLERS AND MYSTERIES

    Length: 288 PAGES

    Publisher: MIDNIGHT INK BOOKS

    Received From: NETGALLEY

    Release Date: OCTOBER 1, 2018

    ISBN: 9780738753621

    Price: $15.99 USD (Paperback)

    Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

    DESCRIPTION:

    Two innocent victims, strangled to death on consecutive Saturday nights. Even as they see the pattern emerging, retired detective Arn Anderson and TV reporter Ana Maria Villarreal can’t seem to convince the Cheyenne police that the killer may strike again.

    Hunting a remorseless murderer leads Arn and Ana Maria down a rabbit hole of ranchers and rustlers. But the closer they come to catching the killer, the more they’re met with suspicion. And when their investigation collides with a desperate act of violence, they wonder whether they’re unwinding the killer’s twisted thread of clues or tightening their own noose.

    MY REVIEW:

    This is the second book in the “Bitter Wind Mysteries” Series however, it can easily be read as a standalone novel.

    Retired police detective Arn Anderson has moved back to his hometown of Cheyenne, Wyoming to renovate his historic family home that had fallen into disrepair.

    Arn has two roommates; one is Ana Maria Villarreal, a television reporter for the local news station, and the second roommate is Danny, a previously homeless man whom Arn has offered room and board in exchange for working on the house renovations.

    Arn has been hired by the local ranchers association to try to discover who has been stealing their sheep. Sounds like an easy (and safe) job right? Wrong.

    Arn has been unable to discover who is rustling sheep despite staking out numerous fields. Then, the job becomes much more serious when a body is found in one of the fields.

    The television station hires Arn to find the killer before local law enforcement does. Seeing visions of central air-conditioning, Arn accepts the job.

    What follows is a true whodunit. There are clues, promising leads that go nowhere, and gut feelings that lead everywhere.

    Author C.M. Wendleboe’s history as a member of law enforcement shines throughout his writing. I believe that his past gives him a unique perspective on the limitations placed on the police when trying to investigate a crime.

    Between the mystery of the identity of the local Sheepherder bandit, the fact that someone might be following Ana Maria and Arn’s gut feelings, it is just a matter of time before he either solves the case or more bodies pile up.

    A page-turner with believable and compelling characters, this book will keep you guessing right up until it’s stunning conclusion. Reading this book will immerse readers in the life of a Wyoming rancher and even teach you some things about the use of dogs for herding sheep.

    I rate HUNTING THE SATURDAY NIGHT STRANGLER as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

    **Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.**

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    To read my review of the first book in the BITTER WIND MYSTERY Series, click HERE.

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    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

    C.M. WENDELBOE entered the law enforcement profession when he was discharged from the Marines as the Vietnam war was winding down. In the 1970s, his career included assisting federal and tribal law enforcement agencies embroiled in conflicts with American Indian Movement activists in South Dakota.

    He moved to Gillette, Wyoming, and found his niche, where he remained a sheriff’s deputy for more than 25 years. In addition, he was a longtime firearms instructor at the local college and within the community.

    During his 38-year career in law enforcement he served successful stints as police chief, policy adviser, and other supervisory roles for several agencies. Yet he always has felt most proud of “working the street.”

    He was a patrol supervisor when he retired to pursue his true vocation as a fiction writer.

    To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

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    ABOUT THE PUBLISHER: 

    Celebrating ten years of the very best in mystery fiction, Midnight Ink publishes everything from quirky cozies to chilling thrillers.

    From the outset, Midnight Ink has been dedicated to sleuthing out and fostering new talent, from their longest standing series by Jess Lourey, Sue Ann Jaffarian and Karen MacInerney to award-winning mysteries by G.M. Malliet and Catriona McPherson.

    Prepare to burn the midnight oil with a Midnight Ink mystery.

    To learn more about this Publisher, visit the following links:

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    Bestselling Author Tosca Lee’s upcoming book THE LINE BETWEEN is destined to win awards and become a Best-Seller ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

    Title: THE LINE BETWEEN

    Author: TOSCA LEE

    Genre: FICTION, THRILLER

    Length: 384 PAGES

    Publisher: HOWARD BOOKS

    Received From: NETGALLEY

    Release Date: JANUARY 29, 2019

    ISBN: 9781476798622

    Price: $25.00 USD (HARDCOVER)

    Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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    DESCRIPTION:

    When Wynter Roth is turned out of New Earth, a self-contained doomsday cult on the American prairie, she emerges into a world poised on the brink of madness as a mysterious outbreak of rapid early onset dementia spreads across the nation.

    As Wynter struggles to start over in a world she’s been taught to regard as evil, she finds herself face-to-face with the apocalypse she’s feared all her life—until the night her sister shows up at her doorstep with a set of medical samples. That night, Wynter learns there’s something far more sinister at play and that these samples are key to understanding the disease.

    Now, as the power grid fails and the nation descends into chaos, Wynter must find a way to get the samples to a lab in Colorado. Uncertain who to trust, she takes up with former military man Chase Miller, who has his own reasons for wanting to get close to the samples in her possession, and to Wynter herself.

    Filled with action, conspiracy, romance, and questions of whom—and what—to believe, The Line Between is a high-octane story of survival and love in a world on the brink of madness.

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    MY REVIEW:

    There are several themes that run throughout this story and each would have been awesome on their own, but by combining these themes into a cohesive and compelling read is what sets this book apart and. elevates it from a great book to a truly excellent one.

    This book is the story of Wynter. It begins when she is a five year old child taken by her mother along with her older sister to live in the New Earth commune. She grows up in the Doomsday Cult (although the residents don’t view it as a cult). The leader, Magnus, is seen as a prophet of God and the members of the group strive for perfection in everything they do, all in an effort to obtain a moment’s notice from him.

    When Wynter is a grown up, 22 year old woman, she is expelled from the group’s walled compound and she is terrified.

    She has no idea how to exist in regular society. Fortunately for her, her mother’s former friend held out hope that Wynter and the rest of her family would one day leave New Earth and she takes Wynter into her home.

    The author does a brilliant job of depicting a former cult member and the difficulties they face when trying to reintegrate into modern society. It made me think of the “Lost Boys” in Utah who were expelled from the FLDS.

    Wynter has barely had time to start feeling like a normal person when her life is thrown into a state of chaos once again.

    Meanwhile, modern day society is experiencing an outbreak of rapid early onset dementia which quickly spreads nationwide. People are scared of getting sick (this reminded me of the SARS epidemic that we experienced here in Ontario, Canada a few years ago).

    Wynter’s sister, a high-ranking Cult member, shows up at Wynter’s door with files, a thumb drive and some biological samples. She enlists her help to get the samples into the proper hands before the prophet realizes where they went.

    Poor Wynter. Readers can’t help but sympathize with her situation. When she meets ex-marine Chase Miller, she doesn’t know what to think, but she needs his help so she has little choice but to trust him.

    The action in this book is non-stop. For the reader it seems as if you are in a runaway car hurtling faster and faster and the brakes do not work.

    I found this story so engrossing that I read the entire 384 pages in a single twenty-four hour period.

    Doomsday cults, a terrifying new contagion that is spreading so rapidly it seems that the entire nation will fall ill, a mysterious and enigmatic “Prophet”, Preppers, CDC involvement,. murder, mystery, and more are all contained within this coming-of-age tale that is the first in a new series.

    Releasing in January of 2019, THE LINE BETWEEN is destined to become a BEST-SELLING book. If you only choose one book to read in January, it should be this one.

    Prior to reading the ARC (Advance Review Copy) of THE LINE BETWEEN, I had no experience reading books written by Tosca Lee. Now, I have all of her previous works added to my ‘To Read’ list.

    I rate this book as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

    My Recommendation: READ THIS BOOK – IT IS FREAKIN’ AWESOME!!!

    ***Thank you to #NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.***

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    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

    Tosca Lee is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of Iscariot, The Legend of Sheba, Demon: A Memoir, Havah: The Story of Eve, and the Books of Mortals series with New York Times bestseller Ted Dekker (Forbidden, Mortal, Sovereign).

    A notorious night-owl, she loves watching TV, eating bacon, playing video games with her kids, and sending cheesy texts to her husband. You can find Tosca hanging around the snack table or wherever bacon is served.

    Tosca’s highly-anticipated thriller, The Progeny (May, Simon & Schuster) is available now!

    To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

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    REVOLVER by Michael Patrick Hicks AUDIOBOOK REVIEW – This is one of the most terrifyingly eerily plausible future scenarios I Have EVER Read. 5 Massive Stars!

    Title: REVOLVER

    Author: MICHAEL PATRICK HICKS

    Narrator: PATRICIA SANTOMASSO

    Genre: FICTION, SPECULATIVE FICTION, SCIENCE FICTION

    Length: 1 HOUR, 14 MINUTES

    Type of Book: AUDIOBOOK

    Release Date: 2016

    Price: $1.99 on AUDIBLE.COM

    Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

    DESCRIPTION:

    Cara Stone is a broken woman: penniless, homeless, and hopeless. When given the chance to appear on television, she jumps at the opportunity to win a minimum of $5,000 for her family.

    The state-run, crowdfunded series, Revolver, has been established by the nation’s moneyed elite to combat the increasing plight of class warfare.

    There’s never been a Revolver contestant quite like Cara before. The corporate states of America are hungry for blood, and she promises to deliver.

    MY REVIEW:

    Although this Audiobook is not long in the length of time it will take a reader to listen to, it’s storyline and content will remain on a person’s mind for a very long time.

    The thing that struck me most about this story was it’s terrifying plausibility.

    The story is set in the future United States where it is law to carry a gun openly. It is illegal to not carry a gun. Some people may scoff at this notion, but you only have to turn on the news to realize that this type of thing may come about all too soon.

    Although this story was written in 2016, it seems like it was written this past month. Within the last few weeks there have been TWO school shootings and when discussing solutions, President Trump actually offered up the idea that maybe teachers should carry guns.

    It is a short step from this to the dissolution of the United States, as happened in the book. They become instead, the Corporate States of America. Scary!

    In the audiobook, Cara, who has struggled with depression is labeled “lower class.” These citizens have no rights and horrible things can be done to them without fear of retribution.

    The television show REVOLVER offered desperate people a way to help their families and would earn each participant a minimum of $5000. What do they have to do on the show? You need to listen to this audiobook to find out. I will say that it is Reality TV taken to the extreme.

    From the very first minute, listeners will be drawn into the story. This book is so enthralling that you will find yourself tuning out the rest of the world and becoming completely immersed in this terrifying tale.

    In an audiobook whose length is just over one hour, I did not expect much in the way of world-building. I was WRONG. The world-building in REVOLVER is top-notch. In fact, I am hoping that author Michael Patrick Hicks has since written a full length novel, or at least more short stories about this same dystopian future.

    I am rating this audiobook as highly as possible. The narration was quite simply PERFECTION. Narrator PATRICIA SANTOMASSO’s voice and the emotion she is somehow able to instill in that voice, make the story seem even more realistic. Listeners will feel as if they are living in the story itself. I admit to being extremely impressed by both the author and the narrator.

    I rate REVOLVER as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

    MICHAEL PATRICK HICKS is the author of a number of speculative fiction titles. His debut novel, Convergence, was an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist. His most recent work is the horror novel, Mass Hysteria.

    He has written for the Audiobook Reviewer and Graphic Novel Reporter websites, in addition to working as a freelance journalist and news photographer.

    In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

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    ABOUT THE NARRATOR
    (COPIED FROM HER WEBSITE):

    I grew up in CT, a child obsessed with scary stories. I was so horrified by Camilla by Sheridan Le Fanu that I slept with garlic on my windowsills for a year when I was 10. I’m mostly over it now, but I order a New Haven clam pie light on the garlic. You may think that incident would have stopped me from reading every Stephen King novel I could get my hands on. Spoiler: it didn’t.

    I got my BA in English Lit because I love reading, and then moved to NY because I love the MTA. Who doesn’t? After graduating from acting conservatory, I spent a number of years traveling across the country doing plays, until I realized I could make a living talking to myself in a padded room – and here we are!
    When I’m not reading, I’m baking, organizing things (I’m sick, I know), riding around on my razor scooter, and finding any excuse at all not to go to the gym.

    To learn more about this Narrator, visit the following links:

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    ACX

    FRIENDS & OTHER LIARS by KAELA COBLE is a fantastic story about what friendship really means. This 5 Star Read releases on February 6th so MARK YOUR CALENDAR – You will be glad you did.

    Title: FRIENDS & OTHER LIARS

    Author: KAELA COBLE

    Genre: FICTION

    Length: 361 PAGES

    Publisher: SOURCEBOOKS LANDMARK

    Type of Book: SOFTCOVER

    Received From: THE AUTHOR

    Release Date: FEBRUARY 6, 2018

    ISBN: 978-1-4926-5116-1

    Price: $15.99 USD

    Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

    DESCRIPTION:

    To all my old friends:
    So here you all are. Nice to see you can show up for a person once he’s dead.

    When Ruby St. James returns to her hometown, it is to the grave of her old friend Danny, a member of a group that was, ten years ago, Ruby’s whole world. The crew made a pact back then: stay together, stay loyal, and stay honest. But that was before all of the lies.

    Because even friends keep secrets. They just don’t stay secret for long.

    Now Danny has left behind a letter for each of them, issuing one final ultimatum: share your darkest betrayal to the group, or risk it coming out in a trap he has created. When past mistakes resurface, the lines of friendship blur, and four old friends are left trying to understand what it means to lie to the ones you love best.

    MY REVIEW:

    Beautiful Vermont

    This picture is of Church Street in Vermont. This is just like the Main Street in the novel.

    Set in the small town of Chatwick, Vermont, the setting of this story is much like the small town I grew up in. And the circle of friends at the center of the plot, remind me of my group of friends from early middle and high school. In fact, Kaela Coble has somehow managed to capture the essence of the universal highschool experience, as well as to accurately convey the intensity of highschool friends and romantic experiences.

    New author, Kaela Coble, has a gift for understanding the complicated dynamics that often exist amongst a group of friends. Her insight into the secrets that people keep, even from those closest to them is spot on. She writes based on her own youth which I am sure is the key to the believability of the story.

    Having one of the main characters die before the book even begins was a stroke of brilliance. In this way the entire story revolves around Danny (who died of a purposeful heroin overdose.) Before his death he wrote a letter and had his mother read it to his friends (during highschool they referred to themselves as “The Crew.”) Included with his final goodbye, Danny has included an envelope for each of his friends. Inside those envelopes, Danny has revealed that person’s most hidden secret along with a threat that if they don’t reveal their secrets to each other, the secret would be told through a trap Danny had engineered before his suicide.

    Think about that for a minute. Do you have to tell your friends everything about you? Are you not entitled to keep some things private?

    In this story, readers will find themselves pondering friendship and what it truly means to be a “good” friend.

    This book is chock-full of lies, deception, anger, betrayal, love and desire, as well as moments of extreme comfort and ease, all tempered by moments of hatred and extreme violence.

    Kaela Coble’s gift is both impressive and undeniable. I have read other book reviews that say things like: ‘The characters jumped off the page,” and I always thought that was a ridiculous statement to make, but now that I have finished reading this book, for the first time ever I completely understand what they mean. The characters in this book never seem like written characters, they come across as real people and long after the final page, readers will still be thinking about them.

    FRIENDS AND OTHER LIARS is one of the best Coming-of-Age stories I have had the pleasure of reading. I truly hope to read more books featuring these characters and the beautiful setting of small-town Chatwick, Vermont.

    Kaela has also included a Reader’s Group Discussion Guide in the back of the book. It is also available online by clicking HERE.

    Aside from the plot being completely spell-binding, this book also tackles some very real and deadly serious social issues, including but not limited to: suicide, addiction, child abuse, losing your virginity, opiate addiction and the rising number of Fentanyl related deaths. The fact that Kaela Coble has been able to include these issues seamlessly into her story is just one more indication that she is an author on the verge of becoming a very big deal in the publishing world.

    I rate this book as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and would have rated it even higher if it was possible.

    Kaela Coble has made me a fan and I am fervently hoping she is hard at work on her next book.

    *** I received a free copy of this book from the author. **

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

    Kaela Coble is an author of women’s fiction, represented by Stephanie Kip Rostan of Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary Agency. Friends and Liars is her debut novel.

    Kaela earned her B.S. in Communications and completed short stints in marketing, public relations and copywriting before switching to assistant work to free up creative energy for writing. She is a member of the League of Vermont Writers and a graduate of the Womentoring Project.

    She is also a voracious reader and a hopeless addict to bad television and good chocolate. She lives with her husband in Burlington, Vermont, and is a devoted mother to their rescued chuggle, Gus.

    To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

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    VERMONT SCENERY

    VERMONT MAP

    Funeral Pictures

    This book review is one of my contributions to the #2018AtoZChallenge on the GingermomReads Blog.

    As an aside, here are some pictures I found on the web showing what heroin can do to a person’s physical appearance:

    If you or anyone you know are thinking about suicide, please reach out to someone. You’ll be surprised at how many strangers will care about you.

    Not suicidal, but are having a hard time with anxiety or depression, or with any other problem in your life, reach out anonymously.

    Here is one of the places you can visit for help:

    KIDS HELP PHONE – WEBSITE

    KIDS HELP PHONE on Instagram

    Kid’s Help Phone’s professional counsellors are available to talk 24/7 at 1-800-668-6868

    – YOU DO NOT HAVE TO GIVE YOUR NAME – It is completely anonymous and FREE.