Review: Before She Was Found By Heather Gudenkauf #bookreview #bookblog

Blurb

“For twelve-year-old Cora Landry and her friends Violet and Jordyn, it was supposed to be an ordinary sleepover–movies and Ouija and talking about boys. But when they decide to sneak out to go to the abandoned rail yard on the outskirts of town, little do they know that their innocent games will have dangerous consequences. Later that night, Cora Landry is discovered on the tracks, bloody and clinging to life, her friends nowhere to be found. Soon their small rural town is thrust into a maelstrom. Who would want to hurt a young girl like Cora–and why? In an investigation that leaves no stone unturned, everyone is a suspect and no one can be trusted–not even those closest to Cora. Before She Was Found is a timely and gripping thriller about friendship and betrayal, about the power of social pressure and the price of needing to fit in. It is about the great lengths a parent will go to protect their child and keep them safe–even if that means burying the truth, no matter the cost”–

My Thoughts

Well, I’m a little behind with my reviewing and reading at the moment. This final semester is apparently going to be a monster.  However, getting it done. Now I did enjoy this book, although I did think it was a little choppy at times. And by that I mean the head hopping got a little confusing.  The pace was great, and enjoyed the characters, even the not-so-nice ones because they were written well.  At first I didn’t like Cora’s diary entries, however I soon got into them probably halfway before the middle of the book.

I did think it was clever how we were made to start thinking it was one thing, because I didn’t see the end coming at all. So that was actually a good twist.  Although I will admit, I think i actually wanted that urban legend to be true.  That was quite tricky.  Second book from this author now, and I think I can call myself a fan. Look forward to her next.

I rated Before She Was Found: 5/5 stars

Happy Reading

Nat

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Review: Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf #bookreview #bookblog #littlemercies

Blurb

Veteran social worker Ellen Moore has seen the worst side of humanity; the vilest acts one person can commit against another. She is a fiercely dedicated children’s advocate and a devoted mother and wife. But one blistering summer day, a simple moment of distraction will have repercussions that Ellen could never have imagined, threatening to shatter everything she holds dear, and trapping her between the gears of the system she works for.

Meanwhile, ten-year-old Jenny Briard has been living with her well-meaning but irresponsible father since her mother left them, sleeping on friends’ couches and moving in and out of cheap motels. When Jenny suddenly finds herself on her own, she is forced to survive with nothing but a few dollars and her street smarts. The last thing she wants is a social worker, but when Ellen’s and Jenny’s lives collide, little do they know just how much they can help one another.

A powerful and emotionally charged tale about motherhood and justice, Little Mercies is a searing portrait of the tenuous grasp we have on the things we love the most, and of the ties that unexpectedly bring us together.

My Thoughts

This was my first story from this author and I really enjoyed it. The pace was fantastic and the characters were pretty 3D.  The story idea was excellent. For some reason I’m enjoying reading about the hot car death type story lines, as awful as they are.  The reason for that being, that they really can happen so innocently.  We’re only human and sometimes we do take on too much, or do have too much going on, and Ellen is shown to us as flawed as we all are.

Meanwhile, poor little Jenny. Despite her not being in the worst situation, it’s still a situation that can and does cause a child varying degrees of trauma, being with her dad that is.  My heart broke for her, just wanting a life that’s ‘normal’. I loved Ellen’s mom, and your heart just broke into pieces again when Jenny would say things like “I’m not going to steal it.” Poor little mite.

I do have a complaint about Ellen, however.  Near the end, she makes a comment about Jenny’s mother being stupid because she didn’t leave the boyfriend or husband (can’t remember which it was now) which I thought, for a social worker, was incredibly poor judgement and of poor taste. It was clear that Jenny’s mother was in a domestically violent relationship and scared to death of him.   I know that we all want Jenny to be safe, but that’s not to say that compassion and empathy couldn’t have be shown to her mother. We know that it’s not as simple as just leaving when it comes to domestic violence, so referring to the mother as stupid, was disappointing and uncalled for.  That would have been a lovely spot for a little education on the psychological trauma a domestically violent relationship can have on a person.  That’s not to say that Jenny’s mother made for choices, she most definitely did. But it wasn’t a black and white scenario, that’s for sure.

I think a book that makes you think like that, is a book that you can say passed the test! Throughly enjoyed that read, and do look forward to reading more from this author.

I rated Little Mercies: 4/5 Stars

Happy Reading

Nat

Review: Love Always, Mum xxoo by Mae West and Neil McKay #bookreview #bookblog @SevenDialBooks

Blurb

The true story of an abused childhood, of shocking brutality and life as the daughter of notorious serial killer, and master manipulator, Rose West.
You’re 21-years-old. Police arrive on the doorstep of your house, 25 Cromwell Street, with a warrant to search the garden for the remains of your older sister you didn’t know was dead. Bones are found and they are from more than one body. And so the nightmare begins. You are the daughter of Fred and Rose West.
‘Mae, I mean this … I’m not a good person and I let all you children down …’ Rose West, HM PRISON DURHAM
It has taken over 20 years for Mae West to find the perspective and strength to tell her remarkable story: one of an abusive, violent childhood, of her serial killer parents and how she has rebuilt her life in the shadow of their terrible crimes.
Through her own memories, research and the letters her mother wrote to her from prison, Mae shares her emotionally powerful account of her life as a West. From a toddler locked in the deathly basement to a teen fighting off the sexual advances of her father, Mae’s story is one of survival. It also answers the questions: how do you come to terms with knowing your childhood bedroom was a graveyard? How do you accept the fact your parents sexually tortured, murdered and dismembered young women? How do you become a mother yourself when you’re haunted by the knowledge that your own mother was a monster? Why were you spared and how do you escape the nightmare?

My Thoughts

You know, I find true crime that’s do do with serial killers intriguing and I ‘enjoy’ (for lack of a better word) reading them. Have since I was 13.  This is the second biography of a serial killers child that I’ve read in the past month, and it’s been a fantastic read. Yes, we all know who Fred and Rose West are and what they were accussed and convicted of, but I find knowing about their family just as intriguing.  This story was just as heartbreaking as Kerrie Rawson’s, although where Kerri had a relatively ‘normal’ childhood, Mae (formerly May June West, I know how could a mother do that to her daughter) was far different. Subjected to horrific physical, sexual, and mental abuse; although it was heartbreaking to read, I found it fascinating to learn just how wicked Fred and Rose were.

But you also learned about Fred and Rose’s childhood, and it was an equally horrific.  How do you expect to severely traumatised children to grow up and not repeat what they grew up in? I loath what those two grew up and did, but I can understand how that may of come to place given their awful upbringing.

I liked the way this book was set out, with little snippets from Rose, who seemed to be in extreme denial. At times I almost believed that she was innocent, just like Mae did.  I have to admit I’m surprised at the support that she gave her mother after finding out what she did. But then I’m not surprised. She’s suffered years of trauma at the hands of her own parents.  It’s not as simple as just not loving them, when you’ve grown up praying or wishing that they were different. Everyday you think it will be different, but everyday it’s the same. But that just doesn’t go away when you’re a child. Sadly enough, it lasts into adulthood as well. Although you may come to the realisation that you won’t ever get the love and affection that you’ve craved for your entire life, that yearning doesn’t every truly go away, you just learn to deal with it. So to the lay person, you might find you’re annoyed at Mae for half of the book. But just bare in mind, we could never possibly understand what it’s like to be in her situation. It’s uncomprehendable. Despite my work as a psychologist, stories like this never get old.  It’s always like reading something for the first time, because every experience is different. No human and their feelings/emotions/behaviours are the same. I guess that’s why I love what I do.

This story doesn’t focus on the murdered victims. It’s a focus on a personal experience of a living victim, who’s life has forever changed. Someone who had no part in any of what happened to her, but lives with the guilt and shame for as long as she lives. Often, family members of serial killers are forgotten, or equally blamed. When really, they’re just another victim.  Much strength and love to Mae and her siblings. I hope that they’re seeking the proper psychological help, and have the supports that they need and deserve. May they live the life they’ve deserved all along.

I rated Love alway, Mum: 5/5 stars

Happy reading

Nat

Review: Picture of Innocence by T.J Stimson @AvonBooksUK #bookblog #bookreview

Blurb

My name is Lydia. I’m 12 years old. I’m not an evil person, but I did something bad.

My name is Maddie. I’d never hurt my son. But can I be sure if I don’t remember?

With three children under ten, Maddie is struggling. On the outside, she’s a happy young mother, running a charity as well as a household. But inside, she’s exhausted. She knows she’s lucky to have to have a support network around her. Not just her loving husband, but her family and friends too.

But is Maddie putting her trust in the right people? Because when tragedy strikes, she is certain someone has hurt her child – and everyone is a suspect, including Maddie herself…

The women in this book are about to discover that looks can be deceiving… because anyone is capable of terrible things. Even the most innocent, even you.

This is the story of every mother’s worst fear. But it’s not a story you know… and nothing is what it seems.

My Thoughts

This was a really great read.  There was a twist that I I liked and the characters were likeable, which is always a plus. Nothing more unpleasant that characters who are annoying or poorly created.

The pace was great, so great that I finished this one in a day. The topic is one that pulls you in. A new baby dying of suspected cot death, only to learn that the parents (mother in particular) is being looked at.  I have to admit, I did think the husband was the culprit and I was saying “I bet he’s done it, he’s acting shady!”. Then I thought it was the sister-in-law, she was acting equally shady. And it was a bit like that, I was suspecting everyone LOL.  I felt dreadfully saddened for Maddie’s mom and what she endured as a child, and I really liked where the author took her story.

The ending… That was the twist and I really liked it!

Have you read it? What did you think?

I rated Picture of Innocence: 4/5 stars

Happy reading

Nat

Review: I’d Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman #bookreview #bookblog

Blurb

Eliza Benedict cherishes her peaceful, ordinary suburban life with her successful husband and children, thirteen-year-old Iso and eight-year-old Albie. But her tranquillity is shattered when she receives a letter from the last person she ever expects—or wants—to hear from: Walter Bowman. There was your photo, in a magazine. Of course, you are older now. Still, I’d know you anywhere.
In the summer of 1985, when she was fifteen, Eliza was kidnapped by Walter and held hostage for almost six weeks. He had killed at least one girl and Eliza always suspected he had other victims as well. Now on death row in Virginia for the rape and murder of his final victim, Walter seems to be making a heartfelt act of contrition as his execution nears. Though Eliza wants nothing to do with him, she’s never forgotten that Walter was most unpredictable when ignored. Desperate to shelter her children from this undisclosed trauma in her past, she cautiously makes contact with Walter. She’s always wondered why Walter let her live, and perhaps now he’ll tell her—and share the truth about his other victims.
Yet as Walter presses her for more and deeper contact, it becomes clear that he is after something greater than forgiveness. He wants Eliza to remember what really happened that long-ago summer. He wants her to save his life. And Eliza, who has worked hard for her comfortable, cocooned life, will do anything to protect it—even if it means finally facing the events of that horrifying summer and the terrible truth she’s kept buried inside.

My Thoughts

This was an interesting topic to write about, I thought.  I think that’s what drew me in in the first place. In saying that, there was something ‘off’ about it that I can’t quite put my finger on.  The pace was good, it wasn’t too slow.  I did find Walter a bit, annoying. I felt like the author was trying to make him more ‘cunning’ or ‘intelligent’ than it came off.  I don’t think Eliza’s daughter’s issue was ironed out enough. Yes she was having behavioural problems, but they seemed sudden and without a good enough explanation as to why. Did she learn about her mother’s past? Was it that and moving from London? It actually sort of felt like there was something that we, the readers, we meant to know but it kind of just loomed around and was never explained (if that makes any sense at all). Kind of like we were meant to come to a realisation in the the chapter or two, but I never got there.

Now this is a matter of perspective and opinion, but Eliza was fairly relaxed for a woman who was kidnapped, abused, and raped. Especially when she went to see him.  I questioned her trauma as well. It was almost as if she had wanted to be kidnapped initially? Her sister was quite selfish, I thought.  Yes, the whole family is affected when a member goes missing, but she seemed fairly self absorbed and lack empathy and compassion when it came to her sister, in their adult years. I failed to like the sister at all because of that.

Overall, it was a pleasant read. No twists, or turns, didn’t give me any physical reactions.  Have you read this one? What were your thoughts?

I rated I’d Know You Anywhere: 3/5 stars

Happy Reading

Nat

Review: The Mother’s Mistake by Ruth Heald #bookreview #bookblog @bookouture

Blurb

Everyone makes mistakes. But does everyone deserve to be forgiven?

She runs past the tinkling of children’s laughter that fills the park. Heart hammering, she reaches the riverbank, breath catching in her throat as her eyes take in the small body, tangled in the reeds, pale and lifeless.

Three years later.

Claire’s life is picture perfect. A new home in the countryside. A new-born baby. A doting husband by her side.

But behind closed doors, her life is falling apart.

And when a threatening note is posted through her letterbox, saying she doesn’t deserve her daughter, it’s clear that someone knows about her past…

Someone knows that Claire doesn’t deserve her perfect life. Someone’s going to do everything in their power to destroy it.

My Thoughts

Okay, I read this on my Kindle so it took me a while because I read a chapter before bed. I found the story to be okay, overall.  I felt that the plot was slower than it should have been,  things seemed to be happening slowly and it did make the story drag. I felt sorry for Claire because he mother-in-law was quite an unpleasant woman. I can’t imagine having to deal with someone like her, and she was my least favourite person in the book. That’s including the ‘baddie’ in this story.

I can appreciate the author’s intension in making the events that happened to Claire a slow build up to making her feel ‘crazy’ but they felt a little too slow for me.  Although, it was well written, I just found that I couldn’t really sympathise with Claire, because at times I found her to be aggravating and a touch annoying.

But don’t let me stop you. Please, read it yourself and let me know what you thought.

Thank you to Bookouture for my review copy.

I rates The Mother’s Mistake: 3/5 stars

Happy Reading

Nat