book review: My Sister, the Serial Killer

review banner

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor my sister the serial killerMy Sister, the Serial Killer

by Oyinkan Braithwaite

read in January 2019

format: audiobook

rating: 3.75 stars

This is a spoiler-free review!

synopsis

Korede is bitter. How could she not be? Her sister, Ayoola, is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola’s third boyfriend in a row is dead. Korede’s practicality is the sisters’ saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood, the trunk of her car is big enough for a body, and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures of her dinner to Instagram when she should be mourning her “missing” boyfriend. Not that she gets any credit.
A kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where Korede works, is the bright spot in her life. She dreams of the day when he will realize they’re perfect for each other. But one day Ayoola shows up to the hospital uninvited and he takes notice. When he asks Korede for Ayoola’s phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become and what she will do about it.

review

Korede’s sister Ayoola has killed three of her boyfriends in a row. Each time she claims they were committed in self-defence, and each time she calls Korede to help her get rid of all the evidence. My Sister, the Serial Killer started with a bang; I was instantly intrigued.

This novel is set in Nigeria and is only 226 pages long, so a guaranteed quick read. Considering we know the victims and perpetrator by the beginning of this book, this isn’t your classic mystery thriller. Perhaps I found the sisters’ dynamics even more compelling: Korede thinks her sister might be a cold-blooded killer as opposed to a victim, but she nevertheless cannot help protecting her.

I listened to the audiobook and finished it in a handful of hours. This probably won’t be my most memorable read of the year, but it was highly entertaining. I’ve never read anything like it and would definitely pick up more of Oyinkan Braithwaite’s work.

My Sister, the Serial Killer might also be considered a slice-of-life novel. The story started before the book began – e.g. several deaths and Korede’s feelings for a handsome doctor – and the story isn’t over when the book is. The ending might be a bit frustrating, but I’m okay with it. As someone who doesn’t like to read romance-centred books, I appreciated that Korede already had romantic feelings before the start of the novel. I much prefer that to insta-love.

My only issue with this novel is the claim that the murders were committed in self-defence. I won’t spoil whether that’s true or not, but in this day and age, I find it problematic when readers are lead to be believed someone is lying about being a victim of domestic abuse. I always want to believe victims, but especially in mystery thrillers, those claims are seldom legitimate.

content and trigger warnings for blood, murder, stabbing, child abuse, coma, cheating, anti-fat remarks (unchallenged)


Are you interested in reading this novel? If you have already, what were your thoughts? Though this won’t be one of my favourite reads of the year, I found it highly entertaining and recommend you check it out!

Thank you for reading,

name2

Twitter Chalky Blue  Pinterest Chalky Blue  Instagram Chalky Blue  Gplus Chalky Blue  Email Chalky Blue  Bloglovin Chalky Blue

Please buy me a coffee if you like my content. I am a Book Depository and Wordery affiliate. If you are interested in buying any books, please purchase from these links. you get free shipping and I get a small commission!

Advertisements

book review: Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

review banner

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor sawkill girls

Sawkill Girls

by Claire Legrand

read in January 2019

format: audiobook

rating: 3.5 stars

This is a spoiler-free review!

synopsis

Who are the Sawkill Girls?

Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.

Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.

Val: the queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.

Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires.

Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight… until now.

review

For some reason I haven’t written a full-length book review since November, so please bear with me while I try to figure out how to do this again.

When I started reading Sawkill Girls, I honestly didn’t know much about it. Lately, many readers have been loving it, however, and after finding out the three female protagonists queer, I wanted to pick it up. I don’t usually read horror, so that was exciting as well.

I listened to the audiobook and the narration was okay. If I had read a physical copy, I think I would’ve been more invested though. The story didn’t fully grab my attention and I didn’t love the characters as much as I had wanted to.

Zoey was my favourite of the trio. She’s black, asexual and determined to figure out what happened to those missing girls. I’m usually not fond of M/F romances, but I liked her interactions with Grayson. Finally a boy in YA I genuinely like.

Val and Marion, the other protagonists, are queer as well. While I obviously love that we got a F/F romance, I wasn’t thrilled by the execution. Their feelings developed too quickly for my taste.

It’s an interesting choice that The Sawkill Girls isn’t a whodunit. We know right from the start who’s responsible for the missing girls. If this book had been shorter, I think I would’ve liked that approach more. At 450 pages, however, it took me quite a while to finish the audiobook and as I have said before, I wasn’t completely invested.

Additionally, I didn’t love the writing style. It’s certainly a case of “it’s me, not you”, though, as I struggle with flowery writing.

Sadly Sawkill Girls didn’t live up to the hype for me, but I don’t regret picking it up. It was nice to explore a new genre and I especially liked learning more about these characters. They were fleshed-out, which I find important.

content and trigger warnings for physical injury, death, murder, animal pain and death, anti-ace remarks (challenged), sexual assault, child abuse, sex on the page (F/F)


Have you read Sawkill Girls yet? Are you interested in picking it up?

Thank you for reading,

name2

Twitter Chalky Blue  Pinterest Chalky Blue  Instagram Chalky Blue  Gplus Chalky Blue  Email Chalky Blue  Bloglovin Chalky Blue

Please buy me a coffee if you like my content. I am a Book Depository and Wordery affiliate. If you are interested in buying any books, please purchase from these links. you get free shipping and I get a small commission!

mini-reviews: Milk and Honey, Since You’ve Been Gone, Pride and more!

review banner

Hello my fellow book lovers! I usually write reviews shortly after finishing a book, but especially when I didn’t take that many notes or towards the end of the month when I have so many other posts to write, I tend to postpone writing them. That’s why I’ll be briefly reviewing a bunch of books today! Some of these I finished at the beginning of September, so bear with me while I try to remember as much about them as I can!

These are in no particular order.

evidence of the affair

I love Taylor Jenkins Reid’s work, so I had to read this short story. We read letters to and from two people whose spouses are cheating on them.

Because it hits close to home, I’m usually not a fan of cheating storylines. Though I probably wouldn’t have made the same decisions as these characters, I rooted for and respected them. I really appreciate Carrie reaching out to her husband’s lover’s spouse. It’s the right thing to do.

rating: ★★★★✩

CW/TW for cheating, ableist language (e.g. cr*zy), fertility problems

we have always lived in the castle

It took me longer than expected to read this short book, but luckily, I didn’t give up. We Have Always Lived in the Castle was a page-turner (despite what I just said); I needed to find out what happened next! In hindsight the plot twist seems obvious, but I didn’t see it coming!

rating: ★★★★✩

CW/TW for bullying, amnesia, poisoning, murder, ableism, arson, death

milk and honey

Poetry is not my cup of tea, but Milk and Honey was rather accessible. I finished it in less than an hour and highlighted a number of poems. The drawings were a nice addition. That said, I thought some poems were a bit cissexist and heteronormative. Additionally, I don’t like the message that no one can love you until you love yourself. As I’ve only had one relationship and it was a bad one, I couldn’t relate to the Loving poems.

rating: ★★★✩✩

CW/TW for sexual assault, rape, paedophilia, alcoholism, sex

since you've been gone

Since You’ve been Gone had been on my TBR for years, though I have to admit this book never crossed my mind when I was thinking about what I wanted to read next. I picked up the audiobook on a whim in September and I quite enjoyed it. M/F romances usually aren’t my favourite, but I thought the love interest Frank was adorable, apart from him kind of cheating on his girlfriend… The anxiety representation was relatable. Unfortunately, this was an entertaining read, but not a memorable one. I can’t even remember the main character’s name.

rating: ★★★.5

CW/TW for underage drinking

pride

I initially wasn’t very interested in reading Pride as I don’t care much about Pride & Prejudice, but I decided to pick this up anyway because it nonetheless features many other intriguing elements such as poverty and gentrification.

Many reviewers didn’t like the characters. I understand their feelings, but I have to disagree. Each character was merely flawed. For instance, I could relate to the main character’s feelings about her sister when she was dating someone. Her thoughts weren’t nice, but I understood perfectly why she was protective.

As I had expected, I didn’t dig the romance. The hate-to-love development was a bit sudden, the main character constantly changed her mind whether she wanted to be with him and the “you’re not like other girls” sentiment was annoying.

I really liked the diversity elements – the story is set in Brooklyn and the main character is Haitian-Dominican American – and I’m certainly still interested in reading Ibi Zoboi’s American Street.

rating: ★★★.5

CW/TW for character death, slut shaming, mentions of racism


Have you read these books? Did you like them?

name2

Twitter Chalky Blue  Pinterest Chalky Blue  Instagram Chalky Blue  Gplus Chalky Blue  Email Chalky Blue  Bloglovin Chalky Blue

Please buy me a coffee if you like my content. I am a Book Depository and Wordery affiliate. If you are interested in buying any books, please purchase from these links. you get free shipping and I get a small commission!

book review: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi | mixed feelings

review banner

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor children of blood and boneChildren of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha, book one)

by Tomi Adeyemi

read in November 2018

format: paperback/audiobook

rating: ★★★✩✩

This is a spoiler-free review!synopsis

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.

review

I gave Children of Blood and Bone so many chances. I first started reading it back in April or May, but after reading the first one hundred pages, I forgot about it and picked up other books instead. I decided to DNF it for the time being and started the book all over again on October 1st, this time on audiobook. It took me over a month to read it, which is very much unlike me!

Though there are many unique elements, I was rather bored while reading this. I just didn’t care… When I first started Children of Blood and Bone, I thought Zélie was about thirteen years old, until her age was explicitly mentioned. She does grow throughout the book, but I nonetheless thought the characters seemed younger than they actually were. The romance, however, was much more mature. Nothing’s explicit though, but there are several make-out sessions.

Talking about the romance: yikes. It’s no secret I don’t tend to enjoy M/F romances and Zélie and Inan’s relationship is no different. For a enemies-to-lovers romance, it was very insta-love! Also, I couldn’t care less about Inan. If I could’ve skipped his chapters, I would’ve.

Some elements seemed written for a younger Young Adult audience, others (such as the romance and many character deaths), not. Unfortunately, those deaths didn’t move me. They were a bit predictable and didn’t affect the plot much. That said, the author’s note did explain why the author killed those characters, and that was interesting.

However, I certainly didn’t hate this novel. I actually really love Amari, her chapters were my favourites! And as I’ve mentioned before, Zélie grew on me. I was especially fond of reading about her magic, I love that she has a connection with the dead.

The final hour of my audiobook was very action-packed, I loved it! It was entertaining and finally, some plot-changing stuff happened! I considered DNF’ing this book many times and I wasn’t sure whether I would continue the series, but the ending is redeeming. I’m keen to find out what’s next for Amari!

content and trigger warnings for mentions of sexual assault/rape threats, slavery, racism, murder, torture, kidnapping, fire, self-harm (blood magic ritual), PTSD


While I definitely struggled reading Children of Blood and Bone, there are promising aspects that make me want to read the rest of the series after all.

Have you read this book yet? What are your thoughts?

name2

Twitter Chalky Blue  Pinterest Chalky Blue  Instagram Chalky Blue  Gplus Chalky Blue  Email Chalky Blue  Bloglovin Chalky Blue

Please buy me a coffee if you like my content. I am a Book Depository and Wordery affiliate. If you are interested in buying any books, please purchase from these links. you get free shipping and I get a small commission!

book review: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent | final 5 star predictions read!

review banner

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor burial rites coverBurial Rites by Hannah Kent

read in November 2018

format: e-book

rating: ★★★★

This is a spoiler-free review!

synopsis

Set against Iceland’s stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes’s death looms, the farmer’s wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they’ve heard.

review

Burial Rites was the final book of my first batch of 5 star predictions I had yet to read. Because those other books didn’t live up to my expectations, I was nervous to pick it  up. I was desperate to love this novel; I didn’t want to be disappointed once more.

Though this isn’t one of my favourite books I’ve ever read, this was a beautiful novel! I was going back and forth between four and five stars, and the author’s note made me bump up my rating. While reading, I had forgotten this book is based on true events. Kent wrote a fictional story, but did a tremendous amount of research, which I really appreciate. She definitely succeeded in offering readers a more ambiguous portrayal of who Agnes was.

Agnes was a wonderful protagonist. She’s without a doubt flawed and has made many mistakes, but she is nonetheless loveable. I also liked the parts from Margrét’s point-of-view. The priest Tóti‘s parts were my least favourite, but that’s not surprising considering I prefer reading from women’s point-of-views, anyway.

I adored the writing. Despite it’s slower pace, Burial Rites was a page-turner. It’s also a great book to learn more about Iceland. Kent transported me to Iceland circa 1829; this is such an atmospheric read.

Because of this, there are some passages we would considering problematic today, but were normal for that time period (e.g. the sexism). Additionally, much of this story takes place on farms, so there are scenes were animals are killed, meat is described, etc.

content and trigger warnings for Christianity, binary language (“his or her”), death, murder, arson, death penalty, physical abuse, cissexist language (“I have stopped bleeding. I am no longer a woman”), ableism, sexism, mentions of masturbation, rough sex (bruises, M/F), epilepsy, death in childbirth, rape, animal slaughter, descriptions of meat, hunting, animal cruelty


Burial Rites is a hauntingly beautiful historical fiction novel, based on true events. I loved how Kent incorporated so much history while showing us that Agnes is more than the crime she’s accused of committing. I’m definitely interested in reading more of this author’s work!

name2

Twitter Chalky Blue  Pinterest Chalky Blue  Instagram Chalky Blue  Gplus Chalky Blue  Email Chalky Blue  Bloglovin Chalky Blue

Please buy me a coffee if you like my content. I am a Book Depository and Wordery affiliate. If you are interested in buying any books, please purchase from these links. you get free shipping and I get a small commission!

#Spookathon wrap-up | 2 mini-reviews

review banner

Hello my fellow book lovers! Sadly, the reading slump continues. I managed to read two books during Spookathon, both on audiobook. I’m disappointed I didn’t read more, especially because I borrowed so many books from the library. I don’t want to force myself to read if I’m absolutely not in the mood for it, though.

Anyway, here are two short reviews of the books I read and I’ll also be talking about the book I started during the readathon, but wasn’t able to finish.

When you click on the graphic, you will be brought to the book’s Goodreads page. You can read the synopsis there.

review

city of ghosts

I started reading Vicious many years ago but didn’t continue it, so this was technically my first Schwab book! This paranormal middle grade novel was a nice read. It wasn’t memorable, but it was fast-paced and entertaining. I listened to the audiobook and managed to read the entire novel in a handful of ours. The main character Cassidy is an adorable Harry Potter fangirl and I loved her friendship with Jacob.

★★★★✩

content and trigger warnings for drowning, death, ghosts

pieces of herWhile Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter was very disturbing, it’s one of my favourite thrillers. The Good Daughter and Pieces of Her, however, were rather disappointing. This novel was a lot tamer than I had expected. It was completely different from the gritty Pretty Girls, and sadly, rather boring. Though there were some twists and turns, I wouldn’t call this a mystery nor a thriller.

Pieces of Her isn’t bad though, there just wasn’t enough action for my taste. Actually, Andrea’s anxiety was very relatable. It made me laugh out loud because her thoughts were so ridiculous at times, yet exactly what would be going through my mind as well if I had been in her situation.

Slaughter’s attempts at feminism were… odd. Sentences like “she didn’t want to be the kind of feminist that men hated” sound like white feminism to me. Additionally, the repeated use of the f*g slur was unnecessary and only included to make the unlikeable characters seem even worse. As a queer reader, this made me very uncomfortable.

I didn’t like the audiobook’s narrator. Her pronunciation of words like white, what, where, etc. was so annoying!!!

★★.75 stars

content and trigger warnings for breast cancer, gun violence, stabbing, murder, repeated use of the f-slur, suicide, domestic violence, HIV, paedophilia, child abuse

currently reading

we have always lived in the castle

I started reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle during the readathon and I was definitely into it. I’m curious to find out the truth. That said, I’m only about forty pages in, so I still have a lot of reading left to do.


Did you participate in Spookathon? Which books did you read?

name2

Twitter Chalky Blue  Pinterest Chalky Blue  Instagram Chalky Blue  Gplus Chalky Blue  Email Chalky Blue  Bloglovin Chalky Blue

Please buy me a coffee if you like my content. I am a Book Depository and Wordery affiliate. If you are interested in buying any books, please purchase from these links. you get free shipping and I get a small commission!

book review: The Secret History by Donna Tartt | Unpopular Opinion!

review banner

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor the secret historyThe Secret History by Donna Tartt

read in October 2018

format: paperback

rating: ★★✩✩✩

This is a spoiler-free review!

synopsis

Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and for ever.

review

The Secret History is one of the first books I added to my TBR when I joined Goodreads. I’ve owned a copy for years and I was convinced I was going to love it, because literally everyone does. I even included it in my ‘5 star predictions’ post.

I actually started reading The Secret History in 2015, but gave up that same evening because the chapters are endless – there are less than ten in this 630 page book – but my expectations were nonetheless high.

In hindsight, I wish I didn’t pick it up again. My feelings sadly never changed. I don’t understand why this is a modern classic. It was so underwhelming.

Richard Papen narrates this novel. He is new to the friend group of Greek students. I couldn’t care less about him. Granted, I am not a fan of books where allocishet white men are the main characters, and he was so boring!

It surprises me that this is written by a female author, considering only one of the six protagonists is a woman, and I feel like I don’t know anything about Camilla. Throughout the book, Richard thinks about his love for her, yet he imagines raping her at one point! I understand that the characters are flawed, but they did and said so much irresponsible shit that was never challenged.

Talking about the six protagonists: did any of them have a personality? They’re rich, snobs and secretive. The Secret History is over six hundred pages long, yet I never got attached to these characters. The only one I cared slightly about was Francis, and that’s mainly because he’s gay and I want to protect all queer characters.

The writing style was convoluted and problematic (an abundance of anti-queer slurs, “oriental”, n-word, etc.). Donna Tartt, “depressed” is not a synonym for “feeling bummed out”!!! And why are the chapters so long??! That’s one of my biggest pet peeves in books and explains why it took me almost two weeks to read this.

This book could’ve been so much shorter. There are many scenes that seemed pointless, but I hoped would make sense later on. Unfortunately, there are no twists and turns; the plot is surprisingly straight-forward. Even until the end I had hopes something unexpected would happen, but alas, I ended up rating The Secret History only two stars.

content and trigger warnings for homophobia, f-slur, ‘queer’ used as a slur, “oriental”, racism against Arab people (including n-word), excessive use of alcohol, under-age drinking, alcoholism, drug use, drug dealing, excessive smoking, drunk driving, hallucinations, hypothermia, physical injuries, domestic abuse, gun violence, animal deaths, murder, suicide, incest, ableist language


The Secret History was very disappointing and didn’t live up to the hype for me. I also own The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, but I am now in no rush to read it. Have you read The Secret History? Did you enjoy it more than I did?

name2

Twitter Chalky Blue  Pinterest Chalky Blue  Instagram Chalky Blue  Gplus Chalky Blue  Email Chalky Blue  Bloglovin Chalky Blue

Please buy me a coffee if you like my content. I am a Book Depository and Wordery affiliate. If you are interested in buying any books, please purchase from these links. you get free shipping and I get a small commission!

book review: All the Rage by Courtney Summers

review banner.png

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor all the rage courtney summersAll the Rage by Courtney Summers

read in September 2018 (Contemporary-a-Thon)

format: hardcover

rating: ★★★★✩

This is a spoiler-free review!

synopsis

The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.

review

After reading and absolutely loving Sadie by Courtney Summers, I had to read All the Rage. It has been on my TBR for as long as I can remember and I’m glad to say it did not disappoint.

Needless to say, I struggle reading books that deal with sexual assaults. There are so many I want to read, but I know they won’t be an enjoyable time. That, however, doesn’t mean novels such as Sadie and All the Rage are bad, but merely that they’re difficult to get through.

all the rage.pngAll the Rage is the perfect title for this book. The way sexual assault survivors are treated is infuriating, and sadly, not fictional. Romy – the protagonist – won’t wear a push-up bra “in case something happens”. Her best friend didn’t support her when she needed it most. All of this is heartbreaking and yet so very real.

As a reader, I was often frustrated by Romy’s actions, though I won’t judge her. Everyone copes differently and in Romy’s case, she knew she would be scrutinised relentlessly, so she wasn’t always completely honest. I actually found this one of the most compelling elements of the entire novel. Survivors don’t need to be flawless in order to be believed.

There is a romance in this book, but it’s not the centre of the plot. In fact, throughout Romy’s interactions with her love interest – who is black – we see the effects the rape has on her.

If you pick up All the Rage expecting a mystery novel, you will end up feeling disappointed. Instead, I would compare it to Far From You by Tess Sharpe. It’s primarily a hard-hitting YA contemporary with mystery elements.

The chapters are short, so this was a quick read! My main complaint, sadly, is the writing style. Many people praise it, but I didn’t dig it. I sometimes had no idea what was going on, when that was clearly not the author’s intention. I, for instance, don’t understand the scene with the suspicious man from the diner. I re-read it several times and I still don’t fully comprehend what happened in the woods.

content and trigger warnings for underage drinking, rape (on the page), memory loss, bullying, victim blaming, slut shaming, alcoholism, menstruation, animal death, GHB/drugged against will, disappearance of teenage girl, murder, PTSD


All the Rage is a solid Young Adult contemporary about a rape survivor. It didn’t exceed my love of Sadie by Courtney Summers and I sometimes struggled with the writing style, but I’d nonetheless recommend it if you can handle the heavy subject matter!

name2

Twitter Chalky Blue  Pinterest Chalky Blue  Instagram Chalky Blue  Gplus Chalky Blue  Email Chalky Blue  Bloglovin Chalky Blue

Please buy me a coffee if you like my content. I am a Book Depository and Wordery affiliate. If you are interested in buying any books, please purchase from these links. you get free shipping and I get a small commission!

Chelsea’s Crime Corner: Ted Bundy & Ann Rule

the stranger beside me.png

Hello my fellow book lovers! Today, I want to try something different. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with true crime. I started listening to the podcast My Favorite Murder last month and it’s absolutely amazing! I am definitely a Murderino and because of that podcast, I decided I want to read more non-fiction crime books.

There are many great documentaries out there (such as The Keepers, The Staircase and Making a Murderer), but because of my anxiety and the fact that I get scared very easily, I tend to prefer reading about crimes rather than seeing with my own two eyes what happened. Additionally, there are a lot of true crime shows that incorporate re-enactments and I detest those!

I, however, realise many of you won’t find these true crime reviews as interesting as those of e.g. new Young Adult releases, so I thought it would be nice to make these reviews more personal and discuss certain aspects that truly shocked, disgusted… me. So beware, unlike my other reviews, this will contain spoilers. Though I personally don’t really think they’re spoilers, considering I’m talking about real people and real events.

The first Chelsea’s Crime Corner – I got the ‘corner’ idea from My Favorite Murder, lol – is dedicated to The Stranger Beside Me, Ann Rule‘s first book. She was a former policewoman and true crime writer. What makes The Stranger Beside Me so extraordinary is the fact that Rule personally knew serial killer Ted Bundy! They worked together and for years she couldn’t believe he was capable of such horrifying acts.

The book was first published in 1980. The audiobook I listened to was an updated version and ends with Ted Bundy’s execution in 1989. I found it very well written. It didn’t contain a huge amount of convoluted details and I liked that it was primarily written in chronological order. The victims are respected; we don’t find out gruesome details we absolutely do not need to know.

Besides reading I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara earlier this month, The Stranger Beside Me is the first true crime book I have read. I chose to read about Bundy because 1) I was so keen to learn more about Rule’s relationship with him and 2) he is so infamous. That said, besides what I learnt from My Favorite Murder, I didn’t know anything about him.

How could Ann Rule, a woman who was so passionate about true crime, not realise her friend was a murderer? When people found out more about the killer in Washington, Rule called a detective and said “it’s definitely nothing, but I know a guy named Ted Bundy…”. Despite the similarities between the killer and her friend, she was convinced she was overreacting. Throughout this book, you come to understand why she didn’t suspect him. Bundy studied to become a psychologist and lawyer, was very charming and polite, took care of the elderly and children, wanted to do an investigation about rape victims and hitch-hiking…  When we watch films about “psychopaths”, they look creepy, behave in incriminating ways, but Bundy – and many other serial killers – wasn’t like that. Even during his trial, I had a little bit of doubts: the majority of the evidence is circumstantial after all, and Bundy firmly proclaimed he was innocent. And that’s exactly the reason why people need to believe survivors: no matter how respectable someone might seem, you have no idea what they might be capable of.

One of the most surprising things I learnt, is the fact that Bundy thought he could be compassionate. He couldn’t steal something someone couldn’t afford to replace, such as a car that looked beloved, yet he was fine with rape and murder.

“Meg Anders”, his fiancé, was the one who made the connection between the Washington and Utah murders and called the police to inform them about Bundy. Isn’t that shocking?! I felt so bad for her. She stayed with him for a long time – even when he was first accused of kidnapping and murder – but in my opinion, she was one of his victims as well. One night, she woke up to find him inspecting her body with a flash-light!

Sadly, that capture was not the end of this serial killer. He managed to escape not once, but twice! When a prisoner escapes, it’s a tiny bit admirable because it must be so difficult to do. Escaping for a second time, however, just sounds as if the guards had no idea what they were doing: they knew he had done it once before!

Once Bundy is imprisonment, we start to see a different side to him, especially through Ann Rule’s letters. He wasn’t exactly unhinged, but he certainly behaved like a spoiled child. Furthermore, everything was about him. Ne never talked about the victims, but he would go on and on about his privileges in jail, how unfair the police was, etc.

I loved reading about the murder trials. It must be so hard to be in a courtroom, but as a reader, they’re captivating. Something absurd always ends up happening, and evidence is such a tricky matter. I absolutely hate character assassination in court; as awful as a person can be, it isn’t compelling evidence in my opinion. Anyway, it’s unsettling that Bundy in court cross-examined witnesses about the murder HE was accused of committing. Being capable of rape and murder is one thing, but then to proclaim your innocence and question the victims and experts is absolutely heartless.

Did you know that Bundy got legally married while his fiancé was testifying as a character witness during one of his murder trials? What the f*ck is wrong with him?! He’s accused of abducting and killing a twelve-year-old girl and they think that’s the appropriate time to get married!

As I have said before, Bundy was a very charming individual and the fact that he so vehemently maintained his innocence, influenced me a tiny bit. I was still 99.99 percent convinced he committed those horrifying crimes, but I thought it was so unlikely for a serial killer to keep that up. I’ve heard many times before that they brag about their crimes, so I was confused. That said, I really need to come to terms with the fact that people will lie and lie and lie, because right before he was about to be executed, Bundy started talking.

That was probably the most shocking moment for me throughout the entire book, so I am glad I picked up the updated edition. Finally, he confessed. What’s more, he even indicated he had committed more murders than the ones he was accused of. While reading, I had assumed that Lynda Ann Healy was his first murder victim. Many investigators and Ann Rule, however, believe he made his first victim at the age of fifteen! Sadly, we will never know how many deaths he was responsible for; many parents will never know what happened to their daughters.

The audiobook of The Stranger Beside Me is eighteen hours long, but it only took me two days to read the entire thing! If you love true crime as much as I do, I highly recommend picking it up! Keep in mind that it was written many decades ago, so it contains dated and offensive language such as the r-slur and “the blacks” instead of Black people. As far as the chapters about the crimes themselves go, Rule did a wonderful job in respecting the victims and not going into unnecessary details. I wasn’t scared while reading, I was primarily interested to learn the full story.

trigger and content warnings for mentions of suicide, “oriental” (not-challenged), r-slur (not-challenged), mentions of child abuse, decomposition, murder, strangulation, rape, sodomy, kidnapping, bludgeoning, breaking-and-entering

name2

Twitter Chalky Blue  Pinterest Chalky Blue  Instagram Chalky Blue  Gplus Chalky Blue  Email Chalky Blue  Bloglovin Chalky Blue

Please buy me a coffee if you like my content. I am a Book Depository and Wordery affiliate. If you are interested in buying any books, please purchase from these links. you get free shipping and I get a small commission!

book review: You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins | five stars as predicted?

you bring the distant near.png

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor you bring the distant nearYou Bring the Distant Near

by Mitali Perkins

read in September 2018 (#ContemporaryAThon)

format: hardcover

rating: ★★.5 stars

This is a spoiler-free review!

synopsis

Five girls. Three generations. One great American love story.

Ranee, worried that her children are losing their Indian culture; Sonia, wrapped up in a forbidden biracial love affair; Tara, seeking the limelight to hide her true self; Shanti, desperately trying to make peace in the family; Anna, fighting to preserve her Bengali identity.

my_review_001

You Bring the Distant Near is a multi-generational story about a family from Bengali descent. I expected to absolutely love this book and rate it five stars, but it sadly didn’t work out that way. I read it during Contemporary-A-Thon and finished the entire novel in two days.

In the first part, we follow sisters Tara and Sonia. They were born in India, spent some time in Ghana, grew up in London, move to Queens and finally end up moving to New Jersey. I loved their relationship and was especially fond of Sonia’s chapters. She’s such a feisty little feminist! Additionally, I absolutely adore reading about Indian families. I’ve read several books featuring their culture and I’ll never grow tired of learning more about it.

The second part takes place in Paris and Bangladesh. This is where the novel went downhill for me. I still enjoyed reading about the characters, but we missed the most important events in their lives! I wasn’t as connected to Sonia and Tara anymore…

Their daughters Chantal and Anna are the protagonists of the third part. There is so much time between this and the first part, and especially because the second one was so short, it seemed quite sudden. I was still imagining Tara and Sonia as teenagers, yet now they have teenage daughters themselves.

That said, they were compelling characters. Chantal is biracial – her father is African American, her mother Bengali – and she feels torn between the two: either she is black or she is Indian, other people don’t believe she can be both. I liked Anna, her cousin who grew up in India, even more. She was the only one who challenged the glorification of the United States post-9/11, which I really admired.

However, there was a lack of connection between each main character. Obviously they are intertwined because they’re from the same family, but I wanted more. Once a character’s point-of-view chapter was over, they barely interacted with their other family members.

You Bring the Distant Near was an enjoyable read, but the multi-generational aspects could’ve been explored further, in my opinion. Nonetheless, Reading these Bengali characters, the struggles of a biracial teenager, the Indian grandmother’s racism towards black people, etc. was eye-opening. So many aspects of this novel were wonderful, so I’m okay with the fact that I didn’t adore the execution.

content and trigger warnings for arranged marriage, racism (against dark skinned Indians and black people, challenged), catcalling, deceased father, death by hit-and-run, post-9/11 attacks on black Muslims, mention of miscarriage


As far as multi-generational novels go, You Bring the Distant Near‘s style wasn’t my favourite, but I’d absolutely still recommend picking it up The diversity elements (biracial and Bengali representation) were, in my opinion, great!

name2

Twitter Chalky Blue  Pinterest Chalky Blue  Instagram Chalky Blue  Gplus Chalky Blue  Email Chalky Blue  Bloglovin Chalky Blue

Please buy me a coffee if you like my content. I am a Book Depository and Wordery affiliate. If you are interested in buying any books, please purchase from these links. you get free shipping and I get a small commission!