The Spider and The Fly by Claudia Row is a true story about a reporter and her unique connection with a convicted serial killer.
I stumbled across this book whilst browsing the shelves at a local book store when I was travelling in San Francisco. It caught my eye when looking originally because of its cover, which generally is the case when looking in a book store, which is simple yet intriguing. Once I had read the blurb I felt I had to buy it.
I tend to read the same genre, crime fiction (which I am going to venture from) and although this is a crime novel it is nonfiction. For that reason I decided to give it a go, well that and it sounded really good.
When i started reading I realised I had made a good choice. It shows Claudia Rowes experiences and connection to this serial killer whom she talks with for over 4 years. How it shows the darkness inside, what motivates people, how people connect and how a serial killer and a reporter can forge this unusual connection.
The story of Kendall Francois is an interesting one and seeing this reporter show a different side to it is something I enjoyed. Kendall Francois was convicted of killing 8 women in 1998, and stashing their bodies in the house he shared with his mother, father and sister.
Claudia had many questions about this crime and set out to find answers. She may have found more about herself than she was expecting.
I really enjoyed this book and reading how the connection grew, and changed throughout their correspondence. I think the book was written in an engaging manner and kept you wanting to read on and felt almost poetic. Chapters varied in sizes but were generally fairly short which is something I like as it excited me to read on. I thought it was well written and although it is a true story had the feel of a fictional book. I would say at times it felt a bit all over the place but it didn’t necessarily bother me. I mean it would have enhanced the experience a little if it was structured in a more ordered way.
The book isn’t really a book of suspense (which the title may suggest) but more about the writers journey throughout, understanding more about herself and others. Even though it it isn’t your typical “true crime” book, I almost enjoyed it a little bit more as it gave a different perspective. The perspective of how another’s actions can affect your own (although maybe to the extreme, not everyone has years long connection to a serial killer)
Just thought I would mention where I picked this book up. This book I got when I was in San Francisco and popped into Green Apple Books on the Park. This was a great little bookshop with both new and used books. This one I got was used, yet it was almost as good as new!
Overall, I would recommend this book! Especially if your interested in psychology. I wouldn’t go into this book expecting it to be centred on the crimes committed as it is more about the reporters connection to the serial killer and how that takes her on her own journey.
Many thanks, Caitlin x
(Ps feel free to like and comment, share your own opinion.)
I recently purchased a mystery book box from the etsy shop ABookishEmporium. This box features a mystery book as well as some reading gifts to accompany whilst you delve into the new book!
I was really excited to receive this book, I love getting a mystery book as it allows me to delve into new genres and authors. It came beautifully wrapped in a box alongside a handwritten thank you note. Once I opened the box the book was beautifully gift wrapped with bullet point detailing certain notes about the mystery book inside.
Alongside the book (which I will reveal what it was) you also received some goodies. I got two types of teabag, thoroughly minted and earl grey, as well as an iced tea flavoured with rose and elderflower (especially excited to try this!). I also got some little snacks which included a little packet of border biscuit and two packets of Mini Loaker wafers (one vanilla and the other chocolate). not only did you receive something to eat or drink whilst reading they also includes a little tealight and a beautifully scented wax melt to enjoy. There was two bookmarks also included one that featured a quote from the book Little Women and the other a floral corner bookmark.
The book I received had the bullet points as follows:
one life split in two
“tender and thought provoking”
The book was ‘Louis and Louise’ by Julie Cohen. The book is a fictional book that explores gender and stereotypes.
“If you could look at one life in two different ways, what would you see?‘
Louis and Louise are separated by a single moment in time, a strike of chance that decided their future. The day they were born is when their story began.
In one, Louis David Alder is born a male. In the other, Louise Dawn Alder is born a female.
Louis and Louise are the same in many ways – they have the same best friends, the same parents, the same dream of being a writer and leaving their hometown in Maine as soon as they can. But because of their gender, everything looks different. Certain things will happen in their lives to shape them, hurt them, build them back up again. But what will bring them back home”
I am really looking forward to reading this book and I would totally recommend this etsy store, they sell a bunch of other bookish goodies so check it out. The shop is linked at the top of the book.
Roadside Crosses is the second installment in the Kathryn Dance series by Jeffrey Deaver.
In a previous blog post I spoke about 2 books in the Lincoln Rhyme series which I won in a competition, that prize also included this book!
Kathryn Dance is a special agent at the California Bureau of Investigation and an expert in interrogation and kinesics.
After having read other books by Jeffrey Deaver I was excited to read this one. I like to read a series as I feel more engaged with the characters and their stories. As I was reading this book I felt that this could be a new series on my TBR list!
Roadside Crosses is a novel where roadside crosses are appearing in memorium to deaths that have not yet occurred. This in intelf intringued me to read this book!.
The roadside crosses and crimes all stem from a blog post on the ‘Chilton Report’ where Chilton questions road safety, the comments soon start to be directed at a young boy named travis who is blamed for a previous crash on the highway. After this leads to an attempted murder on someone who posted about Travis, the blame for that starts to shift to him himself. As Dance investigates this and hunts Travis down the books takes a dive into the online world and how that can be used in an investigation and how someone can confuse real life with the virtual one. This was an interesting angle which I enjoyed reading. It was a page turner and I wanted to continue to find out more about what happened.
Reading about Dance’s expertise in kinesics was really interesting and I felt gave another dimension to the character. She is able to interpret body language in a way that others wouldn’t realise and make deductions which aid the case. I liked the character of Dance, a special agent and mother who uses her expertise to solve the crimes shes faced with.
I felt that the book was full of surprised and twists which I like in a crime/thriller novel and I like this book so much I started to read the nexr book in the series. As you may take away from that, I would recommend this series but would recommend starting at #1!
Find me by André Aciman is a fictional novel which follows the characters we previoulsy met in Call me by your name.
This book shows us how the characters of Oliver and Elio have evolved since the previous book and what their lives are now. This book also provides us with an insight into Elio’s father Samuel. In fact, it seemed a large portion of the novel was about Samuel and his relationship with a younger woman. I was disappointing as their wasn’t too much about Elio and Oliver and how the events in Call me by your name was effecting their lives in this book. You get a couple of looks at that but I feel the book was overpowered by Samuel’s story line which felt a bit pointless in itself.
I would say that I didn’t find it hugely necessary to carry on the story from Call me by your name and I at times felt that it would have been better leaving it at that. Saying that as I read this book I was enjoying it but not necesarily as a follow up to the previous book. I was so excited to read this book after loving Call Me By Your Name, and I felt a little disapointed as it was less about Oliver and Elio and more about Samuel.
I would say however the cover of this book is really simple yet beautiful, the colours reflect a romantic story and if I hadn’t read Call Me By Your Name I may have picked this up purely due to that!
Overall, I would say I was disapointed when I read this book as I felt the main characters we want to reconcile with were pushed to the background and in the foreground was a look at Samuel (whose story felt out of place) I would say however that I like André Acimans writing and maybe if I had read this without looking at it as the sequel to Call Me by your Name I would have a different outlook on it.
I wouldn’t necesarily recomend this book, expecially if you have read Call me by your name (It felt it should end with that book). I would however recommend Call me by your name to anyone who hasn’t read it yet! (I have a previous blog post all about that one!)
This month’s book box club theme is Moonlit Melodies and as usual features a book and bookish goodies that relate to this theme.
As well as the featured book you also received a bunch of great goodies! This included a #midnightsnack cookie as well as a moon child sticker pack. The sticker pack features stickers including shooting starts and moons. You also received a phantom of the opera pouch and access to The Bookshop Band album which features songs inspired by books including Alice in Wonderland. A cute door hanger was also featured which is very cute, and a heating eye mask by spacemasks.com. as well as all of that you also received an exclusive book box club pin badge!
The featured book this month is ‘Ghost Wood Song’ by Erica Waters.
The book is a young adult fiction novel.
Shady Grove inherited her father’s ability to call ghosts from the grave with his fiddle, but she also knows the fiddle’s tunes bring nothing but trouble and darkness.
But when her brother is accused of murder, she can’t let the dead keep their secrets.
In order to clear his name, she’s going to have to make those ghosts sing.
I am really excited to read this book, if I’m honest it wouldn’t have been a book I would have picked up myself but that’s the reason I love this subscription box! It allows me to explore genres and authors I wouldn’t therefor experience! You also get access to a Spotify playlist which features all the songs referenced in this novel which I think it really unique!
Again I would highly recommend this subscription box!
The Truth Waits by Susanna Beard is a psychological thriller partially set in Lithuania that features many themes including trafficking, crime as well as love and family.
This is Susanna Beards second novel but the first I have read and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed. It is a novel full of suspense and twists which keep you compelled to keep reading. It begins with the main character finding a body on a beach and Lithuania and as she tries to find out what happened for the body to be there she uncovers secrets she didn’t expect to find. Although it is a psychological thriller there is also action and danger throughout. As we follow Anna with this journey we follow her life including her meeting Will, and she begins to fall in love. Through this area of the novel we explore the themes of love and family. We see how Anna life and mindset changes when Will comes into her life.
I really liked Anna as a character and thought she was realistic and likeable. She has her flaws and has made decisions that everyone won’t agree with but I think this helps for the readers to relate, nobody is perfect and its good to see that represented in a novel. We also see the aspects of being in a relationhsip where the woman is older is good to see as it is generally written about with the opposite.
The book has some heavy topics (such as trafficking, abortion etc) and I think that Susanna Beard tackled this really well! I would highly recommend this book.
I reached out to Susanna Beard and asked if I could ask her a few questions and she kindly said yes! (greatly appreciated, thank you!) So the following is those Questions and answers.
What made you want to become a writer, primarily of psychological thrillers?
I’ve wanted to write novels since I was a teenager – but didn’t have the confidence to go for it. In those days there were no creative writing courses, and writing (except for journalism, which didn’t appeal) wasn’t seen as a ‘proper’ job, sadly. I enjoyed writing throughout school and my English teacher gave me a love of reading and books — she was a great teacher and really inspired me.
When I started my first novel, Dare to Remember, I was just writing a story: I didn’t have any idea it would turn out to be a psychological thriller! When my publisher called it that, it was a surprise. At the time, the genre was very popular (and still is), so I decided it was going to be my focus.
2. Did you have any specific inspiration, or influence to write ‘The Truth Waits’?
Well it was around the time of the huge interest in thrillers, so after my first was published, I decided to start with a thriller-y premise – like the body on the beach!
I then added in some themes I was interested in, like the older woman with a younger man, the concept of people being thrown together – as they were when the Icelandic volcano erupted – and sex trafficking.
3. What research or process did you follow in order to write ‘The Truth Waits’?
Having decided to set the book partly in Lithuania, I looked online at images of the coastline, which looked perfect – great long, empty sandy beaches, dark skies, threatening waters. I also researched sex trafficking, mostly online, and talked to agencies like Victim Support to get a good picture of how sex trafficking works and what happens to the victims.
I met the Lithuanian Attaché in London to get further background on the country, its politics and history. I then spent four days visiting Klaipeda and the Kuronian Spit where the beach was, and travelled by train across the country to Vilnius. It was great to visit a completely different place and to learn about the geography, customs (and even the police!).
4. What made you write this book in the third person, rather than the first?
I suppose I felt more comfortable in third, though I have since written some characters in first. I think it depends on how close you want to be to the deeper thoughts and feelings of your character – though in ‘close’ third (where everything is written from the personal POV of your protagonist, including description), you get a similar feel to first.
5. Was it a conscious decision to make the main character a female, a strong, independent businesswoman at that?
It was indeed! There are parts of me in her – although she’s not me. I like strong female characters and would find it hard to write a woman who stayed weak and submissive throughout the story. I would have to make her change as events unfold and become strong.
As I’m writing mostly contemporary fiction, I aim to write my stories as a realistic picture of women’s lives, and I think today there are many, many women (in developed countries, at least) who are independent and successful, in multiple ways.
6. The book features some tough topics, i.e. sex trafficking, was it difficult to write about this?
Actually, no – although I understand why you’re asking this. I’m an avid watcher of dark films, drama and thrillers, including crime. The theme is covered fairly regularly, and sometimes in shocking detail, so I knew how it would be.
I also think sex trafficking needs more exposure – it’s a sophisticated, international activity run by gangs of career criminals. I looked particularly at Eastern Europe and Russia and found that Western Europe and the US are often the destinations for these girls. Once you start researching, you realise that it’s a terrible problem, all round the world.
7. Was there any reason you decided to set the book in multiple locations including Lithuania. I really enjoyed this international aspect but curious whether there was a specific reason?
I was looking for a beach as a setting – but it couldn’t be a holiday beach with sun and tourists; it had to be empty and unknown – for the dark, suspenseful aspect of the story. I started with the idea of Sicily (where my sister was stranded because of the volcanic ash incident) but soon realised it was too beautiful! So I looked on the map for a more northern location, largely unfamiliar to a British audience. The Baltic coast was perfect.
8. The book also features a forming relationship between two people, was there a reason it features a younger male and the themes of wanting a family and balancing this with careers?
Yes. I think there’s still prejudice about women with younger partners (the word ‘cougar’ used for them is evidence of this!), while men have always been looked on as ‘lucky’ for pairing with a younger woman. The theme of balancing family with career is one that will run and run, for women at least!
9. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors and writers? Yes – be patient, keep writing. The rewards are fantastic. If you can, give yourself confidence through training – there are so many brilliant courses out there.
10. Is there anything else about ‘The Truth Waits’ that you would like to share?
I dedicated the book to my dear friend Sharon, a talented and wonderful TV drama producer, who helped me sort out a plot that turned out to be a bit of an octopus! Sadly she passed away last year. I will always remember her generosity in helping me.
I think we can all agree these answers were fab, so many thanks again to Susanna Beard! I would highly recommend this book and hope you enjoy it the same as me!
Go Ask Alice is a fiction book in the style of a diary which follows a young girl and her experiences with drugs.
Upon looking further into this book after reading, although it said to be written by ‘anonymous’ and to be an excerpt from a real diary it is now beleived to have been written by Beatrice Sparks. It is a popular book and as of it remained continuoslly in print, over 4 decades since its release in 1971.
When reading this book, I felt as though this could have been written by a young girl struggling with drug addiction who runs away from home and experiences things she shouldn’t. Some of the things recorded in this book are hard to read and an extreme and although many feel it is unrealistic I am not sure I agree. It is less about the specifics and the book as a whole for me. Its about the journey the young girl is on and how she copes with this journey.
I liked the diary structure of the book as it felt realistic and with each excerpt being fairly short, it made me want to read on (just one more section!) I was graphic at times which can be hard to read but I think that made the message of the book stronger and there are extremes to the world of drug addiction at a young age.
This book has mixed reviews with many claiming it as anti-drug propaganda and unbelievable with others praising the awareness, and messages throughout the book. I felt it was realistic enough and brought attention to the consequences of drugs. Strange things happen everyday so who is so to say that the events in this book would never happen. Even if they didn’t I would say I am not sure that it really matters as the message would be the same, there are dangers and consequences to drug abuse.
I liked this book and would recommend, whether you look at it as fictional or not. It is a very impactful read and with a message that should be heard.
Elen Caldecott is a childrens and YA author who wrote The Short Knife, a book I previously wrote a review on.
I got in contact with Elen and asked if I could possibly ask some questions on her career as a writer and on her book ‘The Short Knife’. Not only did she respond quickly, she also said yes! I appreciate when anyone takes the time to answer some of my questions and I can’t thank Elen enough!.
1. What made you become a writer and primarily with children’s books?
I’ve written since school. It was always a hobby and a passion. I had a fantastic teacher who encouraged me early on. Books for young people are pacy, challenging and fun. When I started writing them, it felt like home.
2. What gave you the inspiration to move on from children’s books to writing a YA novel? 3. Was there a reason you decided to set the ‘The Short Knife’ in the past and would you write more historical fiction?
I started writing it with language as the main inspiration. I wanted to write a book that was in English, but inspired by Welsh. I didn’t have a plot in mind, I had a voice in mind. I decided the most interesting time to write about, given that I wanted to write about Welsh meeting English, was when English first arrived in the British Isles. That meant it had to be a historical novel, and, given the complex nature of that meeting, it had to be a book for slightly older readers.
4. Were you particularly influence by any other authors or novels to begin your career orspecifically to write ‘The Short Knife’?
I love to read – I always have. So, I rely on other writers to fuel my reading. I learn so much from other writers. In the case of TSK, Catherine Johnson’s ‘The Curious Tale of the Lady Caribou’ was influential, in the way that she gave herself permission to imagine the lives of people who are quite shadowy in the historical record.
5. What process and research did you have to follow and conduct in order to write ‘The Short Knife’?
I did a lot of research on the language. I retranslated a dictionary of Welsh idioms and played with Welsh grammar. I also researched the time period, with visits to experiemental archaeology sites like West Stow Anglo-Saxon village.
6. Regarding your book, ‘The Short Knife’, was it a conscious decision to make the main protagonist a female with a strong, resilient personality?
I always wanted to tell women’s stories, yes. Not just Mai’s, but the female community she is surrounded by.
7. We see the story flip between two different times in Mai’s life before they catch up to each other, what made you write it with the two timelines rather than just one?
The plot of the book is based on an old legend of Hengist and Vortigern. That legend ends with a massacre. So, I knew that the finale of the book would have to happen with that dramatic event. However, I didn’t want Mai’s story to finish in that spot. So, by mixing up the timelines, I was able to give her a much longer epilogue than is usual.
8. To me, this book spoke about identity and language and this was one way I felt manypeople could relate to, was it originally going to feature those themes or did they happen naturally during the writing process?
It always was about language. I wanted to experiment with languages, more than anything. But identity is so often tied up with language so that ended up become an important theme organically.
9. Do you plan to write any more YA novels?
I might. I don’t know. That’s not what I’m working on right now, but who knows after that.
10. Do you have any advice for an aspiring author or writer?
Be curious. Experiment. Play. Words are a tool, in just the way that clay, or paint, or musical notes are the tools of other artists. Don’t be afraid to mess about with words – sometimes what you do will be awful, but sometimes you’ll make magic.
I loved all of these answers and I felt it gave me further insight into being a writer, the process of writing and of the novel itself. The link to Elen’s website is: http://www.elencaldecott.com/
if you havent read this book yet I recommend you do! Not only is it a great book, it was written by a gret author!
The Short Knife by Elen Caldecott is an adventure/ historical fiction novel that is set in 454AD, as the Roman Empire has withdrawn from Britain.
This historic novel follows the main female protagonist names Mai and we follow her journey through the dark ages and facing Saxon Warriors. It is full of the mysticism of early Britain and we get to delve into the world of Mai.
We start the book with Mai, Haf (sister) and her Tad at their farm when Saxon warrors arrive and the family must flee. we follow their journey to the british camp on the hills and are given an insight into how Mai is feeluing and how she copes with the change. We see her struggle wwith her new situation and wants to leave. She continues in the British camp until she finds herself in trouble and ends up in a dangerous Saxon Camp. in a world where speaking your mother tongue is deadly she must learn Saxon words in porder to survive. but will this be enough?
I also liked the character of Mai in this book. As the protagonist we follow her journey through her experience with the dark ages and Saxon warriors as she become a strong independent woman. We also get to see her relationships with others including her sister Haf and how this effects her and the outcome of her life which I felt added another dimension to the character. She is only young yet we see her go through so much which adds strength to her character. We see her become strong and resilient in a world that doesn’t appreciate who she is.
This book was also a lot about Identify and language and we see how Mai’s is affected as she is forced to speak a language that isn’t her own. She loses part of herself when she can no longer speak her mother tongue and throughout the book we see how this effects her. How much she misses to be able to speak her own language. At one point she tears up after having heard her mother tongue spoken freely which shows the importance of her language is to her.
Generally, I don’t enjoy books that are set far in the past and I can’t say I would have picked this up if I hadn’t received this in July’s Book Box Club subscription box. Saying that, I enjoyed this book and was fully engaged from the beginning. Throughout the book I noticed saying to my self ‘just one more page’ a lot, which to me is a good sign!
Overall, I would recommend this book (even if you are not usually a fan of historic fiction like myslef). It is full of adventure and with a strong female lead you constantly want to read on. even though it features a complex character it is easy to read and enjoy and is almost poetic in its writing.
Book Box Club is a book subscription service where you can choose from different packages: Book box club subscription, purely books and Tales by Mail.
I received the original book box club subscription box where you receive a gift wrapped, new YA novel, access to the online book club and a selection of themed goodies. Purely Books is the monthly subscription where you receive the featured book and access to the online book club. Tales by Mail is the bi-monthly book subscription and podcast for ages 8-12 year olds)
The theme for July was Magical Talents.
The featured book this month was Splinters of Scarlet by Emily Bain Murphy. This novel is a historical fantasy novel set in 19th century Denmark where magic is a deadly gift. When Marit’s best friend Eve is adopted by a famous dancer, Marit draws upon her powers to get a job with the wealthy family in order to watch over her. But Marit has a secret motivation: her father died while working in the family’s mine, and she has reason to believe he was murdered. She begins t investigate her fathers death but as she goes further to the truth more danger arises. Magic may be the only thing that can save her – if it doesn’t kill her first.
After receiving this book, I was first drawn to the book cover and illustration as it I quite simplistic in its elements yet detailed. I read this synopsis and to me it sounds like its going to be a good book and I can’t wait to read it. Let me know in the comments if you have read this book!
Alongside this featured book you received some themed goodies. These were a Splinters of Scarlet adjustable ring by Lisa Angel, a magic bottle water flask with artwork by Girl and Type as well as a Joanna magnetic bookmark by TJ Lubrando. You also received golden alethiometer lip balm by Mad about Nature and Magical Studies Notebooks by Book Box club.
All these goodies are related to the theme and are of great quality. The are all curated and chosen for the box and regularly use small businesses and artwork from small artists which I think is great. An ideal way to promote small businesses!
You also receive an invite to the online book clubhouse to take part in a discussion alongside the author of the featured book. This is a unique feature and one I think is great. You get the chance to read and maybe discover an author then have the opportunity to meet the author, ask your questions and make new friends with the exclusive invite to the book box clubhouse!
I really love this subscription box and would highly recommend. I have written previous blog posts on the subscription box if your curious to what was in some of the previous boxes. The link to the book box club website is: https://www.bookboxclub.com
Many thanks, Caitlin x
(PS please feel free to comment, like and share this post)