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

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Review: A Serial Killer’s Daughter by Kerrie Rawson #bookblog #bookreview @kerrierawson

Blurb

In 2005, Kerri Rawson heard a knock on the door of her apartment. When she opened it, an FBI agent informed her that her father had been arrested for murdering ten people, including two children. It was then that she learned her father was the notorious serial killer known as BTK, a name he’d given himself that described the horrific way he committed his crimes: bind, torture, kill. As news of his capture spread, Wichitacelebrated the end of a thirty-one-year nightmare.

For Kerri Rawson, another was just beginning. She was plunged into a black hole of horror and disbelief. The same man who had been a loving father, a devoted husband, church president, Boy Scout leader, and a public servant had been using their family as a cover for his heinous crimes since before she was born. Everything she had believed about her life had been a lie.

Written with candor and extraordinary courage, A Serial Killer’s Daughter is an unflinching exploration of life with one of America’s most infamous killers and an astonishing tale of personal and spiritual transformation. For all who suffer from unhealed wounds or the crippling effects of violence, betrayal, and anger, Kerri Rawson’s story offers the hope of reclaiming sanity in the midst of madness, rebuilding a life in the shadow of death, and learning to forgive the unforgivable.

My Thoughts

Fantastic. I’ve seen a lot of talk from people who, quite frankly, are plain ignorant stating things like the author just wants her “five minutes of fame” “she’s not a victim” and worse things. I find it hard to believe that people are that heartless, but then I see it daily.

I can’t imagine waking up one day and learning that your father is responsible for murdering 11 people. However, the author does a wonderfully honest job of showing and telling us just that. It doesn’t matter how much I read, or how many clients I see, the fact that these people look so normal to us on the outside and function just like everyone else. The betrayal, shock, heartbreak, denial, loss, and everything else that she goes through is nothing I would wish on anyone. And then to have to deal with his actions as well and the shame that comes from it… Of course, she and her family are victims.

I was completely surprised at how well this book was written. It actually had a fiction feel to it. I got completely wrapped up in this and finished it in a day, it was that good. But then I’ve read so much about the offender and the murders, that it felt so good to read something about this event from another angle. It just goes to show how good these killers are at being ‘normal’, it’s actually hard to comprehend…

Fantastic read, and congratulations to the author. I hope she found some peace and solace in writing it, and wish her the very best in her healing journey.

I rated A Serial Killer’s Daughter: 5/5 stars

Happy Reading

Nat

And I’m Back!

Well, it’s been a while as you may well have seen. Last year was a horrendously busy year for me. I completed my second psychology degree, which included the dreaded thesis. Although that turned out pretty spectacular, my supervisor wants to try and get it published with me. So yay me! Last year also saw me co-author a textbook with my husband, specifically for the fields of criminology, psychology, criminal justice etc.

I was also getting used to my first year of marriage, living with my husband full-time for the first time, and being a mom to 4 kids and not just 2.  Things were hectic, and for most of the year I read in those rare spare moments that I could find, that didn’t require me to read for research! This mostly turned out to be on the 10 minute walk to collect my youngest from school. So while other parents were glued to their phones, there’s me walking along reading a book. The lollypop ladies referred to me as ‘the book lady’, LOL.  And would ask what I was reading at the time.

I’m currently on a holiday, until I start my Masters. How long will this be? I don’t really know, I guess it depends on where I get accepted because at the moment I’m still interviewing for a spot. So I’m living the life and doing nothing but reading, and my other hobby crocheting.

So I’ll be adding my reviews of the books I read, the first I’ll put up the book I’ve just recently finished.  If you’re not already a follower of my social media accounts, the links are up in the follow me on social media page.

So until the review… Keep reading!

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My next read…

So I finished my last book a day or two ago and now I’ve picked up a Nicholas Sparks newbie, Two By Two. I’ve seldom been let down by a sparkie book. Hard to choose a favourite but I really do enjoy them, and the movies too.

Are you a Sparkie fan?

Happy buying and reading

Nat

Review: I Would Find a Girl Walking By Kathy Kelly and Diane Montane’

Goodreads Blub

“I would be drinking and lonely, thinking about all the couples having fun together. And here I am, single, haveing no fun at all. Then I would go out riding around and I would find a girl walking…”-Gerald Stano

His licence plate read: No riders except blondes, brunettes, and redheads. With his flared polyester pants, open nylon shirt, and disco music on his eight track, Gerald Stano believed he was quite the ladies’ man. And should a girl dare fracture his ego, he killed her.

 

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Serial Killer Gerald Stano

By the time he was twenty-eight, Gerald confessed to murdering up to forty women over an eleven-year period. How they died was left to the moment: strangled, stabbed, drowned, or shot. Why? They crossed Gerald’s path and were tossed out like trash. But there were other troubling questions: How did this obsessive loner lure so many women into his car? And how could so many appalling crimes go unconnected for so long?

Based on exclusive access to the killer-and extensive correspondence with him-as well as interviews with the lead investigator and the victims’ families, this is a revealing, shocking, and unflinching portrait of a man who fancied himself one of the greatest lady-killers of them all.

My Review

As far as true crime books on serial killers go, this one is pretty good. My only gripe with it would be the tone at times, which I would assume is more to so with author Kathy Kelly having been a journalist. You can tell that but the constant use of over emotive language. Especially in the reenactments of the ladies murders, as well as at the end in the letters that he wrote personally to her to which she would someones right a commentary on.  Other than that, I very much enjoyed it.

I found the personal touch of the letter correspondence, gave the story a different touch to other serial killer books.  It was intriguing how Stano talked once in prison.  And more so interesting to know that he was on the same death row block at the same time with Ted Bundy. So if you enjoy serial killer books, and withstand moderate emotive narrative, then this one should quench your literary thirst.

I gave this book: 4/5

You can grab an ebook copy here

Happy buying and reading

Nat

Review: Room by Emma Donoghue

Goodreads Blurb

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.

My Review

WARNING: There is a soft plot reveal in there so please don’t read if you don’t want to know

I wanted to read this book because I saw the movie, and loved it! With my study/work schedule I often see the movie before the book and then go read the book because the movie was so good. So I was expecting awesome things, and also hoped that the book would answer some questions that I had from the movie.

Generally, bookworms get up in arms about books that are made into movies. You’ll often come across social media threads, where the movie received scathing reviews; readers pointing out all of the movies flaws, lack of ’emotion’, and the rest. I’m not like that. At all. Books and movies are two different platforms, that allow for two different views on a story. Often the movie changes details of a book here and there, because of that very reason, they’re trying to tell a story differently. And I’m fine with that.

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Movie “Room” 2016 poster

After seeing the movie Room, which I really enjoyed, I was excited to go read the book. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s not uncommon for me to to watch the movie first and then read the book. I’m not a naive or amateur reader, and I’m well aware that the books can be better than the movie. The last instance for me of the was when I watched The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks. I watched the movie first and loved it, then went and read the book and loved that even more! However, I was greatly disappointed with the Room book.

The thing that I did not like the most about the book, was the author’s decision to tell the story through Jack’s eyes.  It’s obvious that she’s trying to channel a five year old, but for me, it just didn’t work at all.  The language, the misuse of language, made for a confusing and agitating read, the entire book. People from social media kept telling me that it would get better after the first 25 pages, that it was emotional and gut-renching, and far better than the movie, but but for that just wasn’t the case. I found the emotion very dull. I believe, for me, this was because I was unable to connect with the story because of the POV issue.

Usually there’s a character that annoys me in a book, and this one was no different. I didn’t much care for the mother/grandmother. She rubbed me the wrong way with how she dealt/reacted to Jack in his new situation.  But then that’s something that needed to be dealt with, by having the character see a psychologist. Which they (the characters) should have all been doing, not just the two main. That’s something that the author had the opportunity to address, seeing as mental health is a major issue that is current in society today.

There were instances that I enjoyed. I did love Jack experiencing the world. It’s really amazing to think that these cases really do happen, and makes you think just how difficult it would be to experience everything for the first time. I find a good book, should make you ask questions, and Room certainly did.  And like I had hoped, the book did answer some questions that I had from the movie, so that a plus.

I feel like this has been one of my more negative reviews, which I’m sorry about because I don’t want that to potentially put you off reading. Because if you haven’t already seen by now, social media is full of positive reviews. I also don’t personally let a review make a decision for me, I like to make my own up. So I encourage you to read this because you may be one of those that ends up enjoying or loving it!!

I gave this book: 3/5

You can purchase an ebook copy here

Happy Reading!

Nat

Review: Adnan’s Story: The Truth by Rabia Chaundry

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Goodreads Blurb

In early 2000, Adnan Syed was convicted and sentenced to life plus thirty years for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee, a high school senior in Baltimore, Maryland. Syed has maintained his innocence, and Rabia Chaudry, a family friend, has always believed him. By 2013, after almost all appeals had been exhausted, Rabia contacted Sarah Koenig, a producer at This American Life, in hopes of finding a journalist who could shed light on Adnan’s story. In 2014, Koenig’s investigation turned into Serial, a Peabody Award-winning podcast with more than 500 million international listeners

But Serial did not tell the whole story. In this compelling narrative, Rabia Chaudry presents new key evidence that she maintains dismantles the State’s case: a potential new suspect, forensics indicating Hae was killed and kept somewhere for almost half a day, and documentation withheld by the State that destroys the cell phone evidence — among many other points — and she shows how fans of Serial joined a crowd-sourced investigation into a case riddled with errors and strange twists. Adnan’s Story also shares Adnan’s life in prison, and weaves in his personal reflections, including never-before-seen letters. Chaudry, who is committed to exonerating Adnan, makes it clear that justice is yet to be achieved in this much examined case.

My Review

Wow. Just wow. I remember first listening to the “Serial” podcast early 2015. I listened to each of the episodes on the series while I was at the gym, on my iphone. I didn’t know anything about the case it was based on, that of Adnan Syed and his ex-girlfriend, for whom he is currently serving a life sentence plus 30 years for her murder.  Of course, after listening to the podcast, I did a little research but due to my own studies, that was limited.  I then picked up this book, and have to admit it’s been one of the best true crime books that I’ve read in a while.

If you’ve listened to Serial, you’ll know that it was 12 episodes, so you would think that that is A LOT of information. It’s not. It’s only a very small portion of Adnan’s case, and that is what Rabia herself has said.  This book is soooooo rich in information. Information on Adnan, on his case, on the prosecutions case, on the defense case, on the detectives and police, Adnan’s family, and of course, Adnan’s ethnicity and religion which has played a very important role in his trial. Not only does Rabia talk about the issues in Adnan’s case, but also addresses the issues of the ‘broken’ system that we rely so heavily on.  I’m in awe of the amazing job that Rabia has done in the case, and the book, and how enthralling it is to read. I go to 60% through and couldn’t tear myself away from it, having to finish it over an hour and a half, whilst holding onto a full bladder!

The flow and style of writing was definitely an absolute pleasure. The release of information was plentiful but manageable, and the way theories and evidence was revealed was fascinating. I really learned a lot about the case, but also about Muslims, which admittedly, I really didn’t know a lot about. So I loved all this information and education. Really, I can’t speak more highly enough about this book. I believe that there could be no better person to be advocating for Adnan, and Rabia has certainly done a spectacular job throwing her time and effort into this. Adnan would be very proud and thankful for it.

Do yourself a favour and GRAB THIS BOOK. You can do that here for the ebook, and here for the paperback.

You can also visit Rabia Chaundry’s website here

I rated this book: 5/5

Happy purchasing and reading

Nat

What Am I Reading At the Moment?

Christmas is just around the corner. Literally. Two sleeps away. Got my shopping done a little earlier this year, and to be honest, I’m patiently waiting for it to be done for another year so my purse can recouperate! img_1979

I’m almost half-way through Adnan’s Story by Rabia Chaudry, which is the story from the podcast Serial, if you’re familiar with it. And despite some less than fantastic reviews, I’m very much enjoying it.

his-kidnappers-shoesI’ve also just decided on His Kidnapper’s Shoes by Maggie James to start on my Kindle. I received that as a ARC from Lake Union Publishing, and it actually sounds very intriguing so I look forward to starting that one in the next day or so.

Hope you all have a safe and happy holidays and I hope Santa’s good to you. By good, I mean buys lots of books!

Happy receiving, buying and reading

Nat

Review: Scared to Death by Rachel Amphlett

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Goodreads Blurb

A serial killer murdering for kicks.

A detective seeking revenge.

When the body of a snatched schoolgirl is found in an abandoned biosciences building, the case is first treated as a kidnapping gone wrong.

But Detective Kay Hunter isn’t convinced, especially when a man is found dead with the ransom money still in his possession.

When a second schoolgirl is taken, Kay’s worst fears are realised.

With her career in jeopardy and desperate to conceal a disturbing secret, Kay’s hunt for the killer becomes a race against time before he claims another life.

For the killer, the game has only just begun…

 

About the Author

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Rachel Amphlett is the bestselling author of the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the new Detective Kay Hunter series, as well as a number of standalone crime thrillers.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel is a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold, being sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint in 2014.

An advocate for knowledge within the publishing industry, Rachel is always happy to share her experiences to a wider audience through her blogging and speaking engagements.

You can keep in touch with Rachel by signing up to her mailing list via her website (http://www.rachelamphlett.com), or via Facebook (http://on.fb.me/TN7rpu) and Twitter: @RachelAmphlett

 

My Review

This book is the first in the Detective Kay Hunter series and opens with a kidnapping scene of a teen, with her parents frantically trying to battle the ticking clock to save her.  Personally, I didn’t find this one to be as ‘fast-paced’.  For me, there were times when it was slow and the the characters lacking a certain spark, this mainly being the serial killer. I have to admit, it wasn’t the most interesting serial killer that I’ve read. In fact, if anything let this story down, it was that character for me. I, like many other readers, enjoy a deep, dark, and twisted character but unfortunately, this one just didn’t have that vibe. It’s a complicated character to emulate on paper, and while there are a number of ficitonal books out there with them in it, I’ve read few that have been able to win me over.

The writing is enjoyable, and the chapters are the perfect length for those “Just one more….” moments, where you don’t want to put it down; however amongst the other series that this book now joins, I didn’t find it reaching a 5 stars just yet. I did enjoy Detective Hunter, she was tough and dedicated but also showed a more vulnerable side to her.  Her relationship with her husband was quite nice to read, as was her professional relationship with her colleagues.  And I very much enjoyed the last few chapters of the book, the author wrapped up in a way that’s got me eager to read the next in the series, and hopefully it will be another serial killer character that she’ll be able to win me over with!

Thank you very much to the author for allowing me to take part in the book blog tour, and for providing an ebook version to review, and I wish you all the best with the remainder of the tour!

You can purchase this title from Amazon here.

I rated this book: 4/5

Happy buying and reading

Nat

Review: Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Wow, wow, wow. Now, I’ve heard on the bookworm grapevine, that Jodi Picoult work is pretty darn good. If her other stuff is like this book, then I’d better get into it, quick smart!!!

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Goodread Blurb

In Sterling, New Hampshire, 17-year-old high school student Peter Houghton has endured years of verbal and physical abuse at the hands of classmates. His best friend, Josie Cormier, succumbed to peer pressure and now hangs out with the popular crowd that often instigates the harassment. One final incident of bullying sends Peter over the edge and leads him to commit an act of violence that forever changes the lives of Sterling’s residents.

Even those who were not inside the school that morning find their lives in an upheaval, including Alex Cormier. The superior court judge assigned to the Houghton case, Alex—whose daughter, Josie, witnessed the events that unfolded—must decide whether or not to step down. She’s torn between presiding over the biggest case of her career and knowing that doing so will cause an even wider chasm in her relationship with her emotionally fragile daughter. Josie, meanwhile, claims she can’t remember what happened in the last fatal minutes of Peter’s rampage. Or can she? And Peter’s parents, Lacy and Lewis Houghton, ceaselessly examine the past to see what they might have said or done to compel their son to such extremes. Nineteen Minutes also features the return of two of Jodi Picoult’s characters—defense attorney Jordan McAfee from The Pact and Salem Falls, and Patrick DuCharme, the intrepid detective introduced in Perfect Match.

Rich with psychological and social insight, Nineteen Minutes is a riveting, poignant, and thought-provoking novel that has at its center a haunting question. Do we ever really know someone?

My Review

You know at the beginning, I didn’t think i was going to like this one. I wasn’t a fan of the swapping from present to past with chapters, or the characters. However, I grew to actually love it. I don’t really have any other negatives! I loved this book. It was full of emotion, and so rich in research. The author did a wonderful job researching, I found myself getting lost in each and every character.  I think my favourite character was Peter. It’s a controversial topic,  and you’re often more inclined to to see his and his actions as ‘evil’ and you still may after reading this, but to me, I see Peter (and others who have acted like him) as human.  I think the author did a realistic, and gut-wrenching job at portraying the heartache and pain that the family of Peter, and real-life families in the same position, go through.  You can’t even begin to imagine how much your life could change if you were put in the same position. It’s almost unfathomable.

There’s no denying that Peter actions were wrong, however, it’s only natural to me, to feel empathy and sympathy for him especially at the author tells his story from kindergarten to the event.  It gave his character a face and emotion.  My heart broke for him in scenes that included his brother, and how he acted towards Peter.  The court scenes towards the end were fantastic. The dialogue between lawyers and witnesses flowed so beautifully, I flew threw it.  And started crying in the last three chapters when the little twist was revealed. Amazing. Definitely a book that makes you think and question life and being a parent.

I rate this book: 5/5

You can purchase this via Amazon ebook here

Happy buying and reading!

Nat