Review: Blacklands by Belinda Bauer

blacklands

“Slicing through every social norm, evading capture with superhuman ease, and preying on the small, the vulnerable, and the trusting, Avery had swept down like the angel of death and pulled a pin out of his family. Then he hadn’t even stuck around to watch it explode.”

4/5 Stars

Synopsis

Twelve-year-old Steven Lamb digs holes on Exmoor, hoping to find a body. Every day after school, while his classmates swap football stickers, Steven goes digging to lay to rest the ghost of the uncle he never knew, who disappeared aged eleven and is assumed to have fallen victim to the notorious serial killer Arnold Avery.

So the boy takes the next logical step, carefully crafting a letter to Arnold Avery in prison. And there begins a dangerous cat-and-mouse game between a desperate child and a bored serial killer.


My Thoughts

For a mystery/ crime thriller, Blacklands was definitely one of those books that has you wondering what’s going to happen next, while not noticing the slow building, anxiety inducing stress that has crept into your mind, because deep down you do know exactly what’s going to happen. It’s delicious.

What I enjoyed most about the book was the fascinating narrative. Points of view switch between Steven, Arnold Avery, and Stephen’s mother, although the latter is brief. SO, we’ll just focus on Steven and Arnold.

This is a beautifully done ‘cat-and-mouse’ game written from the perspective of the intellectual mind. That is, without much dialogue happening, the narrative is almost strictly written from the perspective of the conscious and subconscious mind. Each is trying to figure the other out, while maintaining the illusion that the game isn’t about ultimately getting what one wants from the other in the end. And the game can have deadly consequences for each.

Some may find that the story is a bit slow, but I think that’s where you’ll discover the whole point of the book. This book is NOT about what happens at the end, because the end can go one of two ways. No, this book is 100 percent about the chase, and the study of each individual as they move their pieces in a game of chess.

I would highly recommend this to any fans of the mystery/thriller genre. It’s different, and it’s absolutely a fascinating story. You can find the Goodreads page here.


Thanks for reading! What’s your favorite genre to read?

Review: Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller

Bitter Orange

“Who wouldn’t want to rewrite their past, if it means it will change their future?”

Rating: FIVE Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis

From the attic of Lyntons, a dilapidated English country mansion, Frances Jellico sees them—Cara first: dark and beautiful, then Peter: striking and serious. The couple is spending the summer of 1969 in the rooms below hers while Frances is researching the architecture in the surrounding gardens. But she’s distracted. Beneath a floorboard in her bathroom, she finds a peephole that gives her access to her neighbors’ private lives.


My Thoughts

It’s been two days since I finished this book and I’m still not quite sure how to put into words what a wonderful read it was. Bitter Orange is a historical fiction novel that is written with an element of mystery, and characters that will suck you right into the story. Our three main characters Cara, Frances, and Peter each have a psychological depth that only deepens as the story progresses and they develop. Each has a past they would do just about anything to change or forget, and their dynamic is one of codependency on that front, but also solidarity. But what I loved most about this novel was the thrill of wondering what was going on underneath the surface and when I was going to find out. The suspense builds slowly, but not in a way that makes you all jittery like you’ve had too much coffee. It’s perfectly paced and because you know going in that something will happen, it allows you to enjoy the entire reading experience rather than spend all your time trying to predict and guess at every page turn.

Claire Fuller takes you on a literary journey that not only keeps you interested, but gets you invested in the lives of the characters. And you won’t realize you’re that mentally deep in the novel until you put the book down for a spell and see that the story is all you can think about while you’re at work, making food, visiting with friends, etc. You’ll get bits and pieces of each characters’ past as they get to know one another but from their perspective, and the funny thing about perspective is that it does not always equal truth. In fiction or life in general.

This is the type of novel you could read again in the future and discover things you missed the first time. I’ve read reviews where people suggested the use of symbolism throughout the novel. While I agree that, yes, I can definitely imagine this book being examined in AP Literature classes, I didn’t pick up on the supposedly glaring symbolism and that may be in part due to the fact that I was never really that great at identifying those elements by myself. I took the AP Lit classes in high school and greatly enjoyed dissecting the books on a philosophical level, but had I not been in those classes I never would’ve picked up on many of the suggested themes if I had read the book on my own. So, I will absolutely reread this book in the future and take it slowly in hopes of identifying the possibility of hidden themes I may have missed the first time.

Overall, this was an excellent read and I feel so lucky to have picked it up. I will absolutely be recommending it to anyone with ears, in true bookworm fashion: too often and with so much enthusiasm that if executed properly will be interpreted as slightly aggressive and pushy. No apologies.

You can find the Goodreads page for Bitter Orange here


Thanks for reading! May your books be massive and your reading time infinite.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Dark Places

Dark Places

THREE Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️


My Thoughts

This is my third Gillian Flynn read and while Dark Places had me on the edge of my seat, it wasn’t as impressive as Gone Girl or Sharp Objects. Of course this could be due to the fact that I put too much pressure on myself to expect that ultimate WOW factor, and didn’t go into the book with the same “let’s see what happens” attitude as with the previous two. What is entirely accurate about this book though is the fact that Flynn knows how to write a great mystery thriller.

The story follows Libby, a woman whose entire life has been stunted by events that took place on her family’s farm twenty years earlier, including her testimony that put her brother in prison. Perspectives will shift throughout the book to other key characters in the story, both present and past, and you will get to follow these characters through the days leading up to that horrific night at the farm. It all comes down to one question: was Libby’s testimony accurate, or is she a pawn?

Sounds pretty good right? It is, and the tiny pieces of information you get throughout the story are delicious and enticing. If you haven’t read any of Gillian Flynn’s books yet, I can tell you that she weaves mystery and suspense together beautifully, and blends those with dark and sinister characters you can appreciate. The psychological nature of the characters in her stories have always made me feel like I’ve FINALLY been given the opportunity to get inside someone’s head and hear exactly what they’re thinking, no matter how messed up and full of “TMI” those thoughts may be. And this book is no exception to those feelings. Dark Places is a truly enjoyable read when you get down to the nitty-gritty facts of life and the things people are willing to do to get what they want.

So WHY did I give only three stars? For me the answer is simple, and not some huge mind-blowing discrepancy that I know you guys don’t want to read anyways. 😊 The book was slow. There, I said it.

Let’s say you’re following a trail of evenly spaced-out Skittles to a destination you know is going to be the equivalent of Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. (YES PLEASE, kindly direct me to the Skittles so I can get started.) Both journey and destination are awesome, and you get to eat candy along the way. However, if the Skittles trail is 15 miles, chances are you’re gonna get full (and probably sick) before you reach the ultimate prize and you aren’t even going to be that excited about it. You just want it to be OVER already. THAT is how I felt reading the last half of this book.

The book isn’t that long, but for my reading tastes, it kind of dragged in some areas. Plus, I had a pretty good idea of “who dun it” and that kind of made the rest drag because I had figured it out already. But don’t get me wrong: I mean it when I say Flynn’s books are no joke. It is NOT easy to figure out the ending, and it is certainly not a waste of time if you enjoy the genre. I don’t usually figure out how it ends, so I was all sorts of patting myself on the back this time because it probably won’t happen again for a very long time.

Dark Places is absolutely a great story with a fantastic plot and characters who will have you pulling your hair out AND wanting to hug them. And I can promise the book will keep you on your toes and looking to solve the mystery first. Let me know if you do 😉


Thank you for reading! I’d love to hear what stories you’ve reached for lately!