This months theme was Once Upon a Story and featured one mystery book and some bookish goodies related to this theme.
In this months box you received 6 bookish goodies which included a weekly book planner by Vetoile on instagram so you can plan your bookish adventures. It also featured a lovely scented candle (named Ruby Slippers) by bookworm candles who can be found on etsy. It also featured some lovely notecards inspired by the book a Girl Made of Air as well as an Auryn Enamel Pin made by book box club themselves. The last two bookish goodies were a Fairy Tales cushion cover by Sparrow + Wolf and a Fairy Tails multi-wear snood with artwork by Racheal Preshy. All of these goodies are absolutely gorgeous and to a high standard!
The featured book this month was D a Tale of Two Worlds by Michel Faber.
‘The letter D is disappearing from the English language – and Dhikilo must do something to save it! With a shape-shifting magical dog by her side she heads of to the fantastical land if Liminus, where she must find and defeat a dark dictator, known as the gamp’
This book looks really interesting to me and honestly I am not too sure whether I will like it. I tend to enjoye books with a little more realism but saying that I will definitely give it a go. Thats the reason i find this subscription service to good as it allows me to try different genres and authors I wouldn’t otherwise!
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.)
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!)
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.
Smoke gets in your eyes: and other stories from the crematorium by Caitlin Doughty is a non-fiction work which looks at life working at a crematorium.
It is almost like a collection of non-fiction short stories surrounding Doughty work within the crematorium, all of which were interesting and curious. I have never really thought about what happened at a place like that and who would want to work there but this provides a great insight. It makes you think about the events of a funeral/cremation and how they have evolved and changed over time and between cultures.
Although this book has a lot to do with death it doesn’t really fell a heavy book to read and is an interesting read, this is likely due to Doughty humour throughout as well as her engaging writing style. It is full of facts about what happens in a crematorium and what has changed (and what Doughty feels should change) as well as practices in some other cultures surrounding the dead.
It is the mix between the facts and Doughty personal experience as a crematorium worker which was made this a great book, in my opinion. It made it feel more understandable and intriguing. I liked the fact the book was split up into different chapters or stories as it felt easier to read and more engaging.
This book is entertaining, morbid and factual allowing you to learn about something new while you read! I would recommend!
Many thanks, Caitlin x
(PS feel free to comment or like)
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I bought a ‘pamper box’, surprise gift box’ from Second Chapter Books on Etsty, and this is what I received and thought of it.
First of all, I thought this was a great purchase! I got to buy a surprise book (pre-loved) and receive some goodies all whilst supporting a small business.
When I first ordered this I wasn’t really looking for it but it popped up on my Etsy and it looked like something I would be interested in. I went to buy it and I saw that this seller has a bunch of different box options, from book only to multiple books plus surprises.
I chose the pamper self care box as I saw it included a face mask and that is something I appreciate. It was only £12 so i feel like its good value for money but there is other options that are even cheaper! When I nought this you got the option to choose the genre your book will be. (the options are romance, young adult, nonfiction, mystery/thriller and surprise me!) I think this is a great addition as if you like a specific genre you wont be diccspointed.
Personally I am a fan of mystery/thriller books so that is the genre I chose. The book I recieved (was beautifully wrapped, first off) was I Found You by Lisa Jewell. I read the back and immediatly thought this is the klind of book I would have picked and I am excited to read it.
from the blurb, the book looks as if it centres around the theme of memory loss and what happens when Lily new husband disapears, and Alice finds a man on the beach outside her home who has no memory at all. This book intruigues me and I can’t wait to delve into it.
I would highly recommend this seller on etsy and I will leave a link to it so you can look into it aswell!
A Minute to Midnight by David Baldacci is the second book that features FBI agent Atlee Pine. This novel follows Agent Pine as she tried to find out what happened one fateful night when she was 6 years old and her twin sister Mercy was taken and Pine herself was left for dead. When she oversteps her mark on an arrest she is given a leave of absence which she uses as a perfect opportunity to try to figure out what actually happened all those years ago.
I picked this book up when I was browsing one day and it caught my eye immediately, I love investigative books and this one seemed to be one that I would like. Upon reading my initial thoughts were correct.
I feel that as soon as I began reading I was gripped on the story and wanted to find out what happened to Pine and her sister. In the beginning of the book we find out Pine is visiting a criminal in a Colorado maximum security prison who she beleives knows something about what happens and he plays mind games with her which proves to be frustrating to Pine. I thought this was an interesting way to begin. As Pine already believes she has found someone who knows something the book takes off from there and with Pine being given leave of absence brings an opportunity for us to follow her journey to the truth.
As she delves back into her past her memory of that night are hazy but she meets up with people who knew her parents and family or lived in the area at the time. She uncovers shocking surprises and secrets which makes her question her parents and her own past. What did she really know about her family?
As all of this goes on a string of murders begin to occur in her hometown which as an FBI agent she helps out with. It makes you as the reader think about whether the current crimes were connected to those of the past.
Atlee Pine is a strong female FBI Agent who I found was a character I wanted to stay with and was likeable. You want to help her find the truth and seeing the main lead of the book as a female FBI agent was great! as Pine reflects on her memories of the event that lead to her sister being taken you want to help her to find the truth. The book shows how she has never really gotten over what happened that night and not knowing what happened to her twin sister was affecting her. This book allows insight into why Pine is the agent she is today!
I found this book an easy read in the sense that the book made me want to turn the pages. I wanted to find out what happened on the next page and chapter! It was a thriller full of great twists and turns which proved to be a compulsive read. The first in the Atlee Pine books, Long Road to Mercy, is for sure on my to read list after reading this! (although I would say I didn’t find I was missing anything huge without reading in the correct order but I would recommend doing so!)
I found Baldacci writing to be engaging and easy to comprehend. With a book about discovering something that happened in the past it can sometimes become a confusing read with different timelines and tenses but this book never had that problem! I like that the chapters were not too big and allowed me to see progress clearly.
I would recommend this book for sure, especially to those who like a book with twists, turns, investigations and crime!
The Lincoln Rhyme series by Jeffrey Deaver conisists of 16 novels, which were the basis for a TV series that was realeased in January 2020.
I am not going to lie and say I have read all 16 (but I will one day be able to say that). I have read two of the series that I was fortunate to have won in a competition. The two I have read, The Burning Wire and The Skin Collector, I loved and has made me add the other 14 books to my TBR list. (the list just got a whole lot longer:))
Lincoln Rhyme is a former NYPD homicide detective, forensic anaylist and crimanalist who after being injured during an investigation becomes a quadriplegic. He is now a forensic consultant who works from a state of the art lab in his own home. He works alongside Amelia Sachs who acts as his eyes as she walks through crime scenes and helps to solve the crimes they are faced with.
The Burning Wire was the fist one I read which also happened to be the 9th in the series. For this reason I was skeptical about how much I would understand or engage with the characters having missed out on the previous 8 books. I would say the main story of the killers whose weapon was electricity was one I found unique and made me want to read on but there was a sub-plot based around the Watchmaker, one of the few criminals to get away from Lincoln Rhyme which I felt a bit of background knowledge could have been useful. Saying that, I still enjoyed the book a lot and it didn’t really affect my reading enjoyment.
I found this book a page turner which is the best kind of book in my opinion. In this novel there is a killer whose unique weapon is electricity. I found this quite a different weapon of choice compared to others in different books which I liked and it felt new to me. Reading how something most of us take for granted can be turned into a weapon and seeing how Rhyme and his team tackled finding this killer was really engaging.
I have to admit I am not sure how much I loved the little bits of input about the watchmaker story line. I get that it is more of a bigger picture moment but I felt it kind of stunted the flow of the book. This could have just been due to the fact I hadn’t read previous books but I felt it took away a bit from the investigation ongoing.
I liked how we got to read this book from different points of view, I personally find this more engaging as we see differences within the characters and there perception of what is happening around them.
I was a fan on the character of Lincoln Rhyme and how even though he was a quadriplegic he is still one of the best in his field of work. How he utilises help from people and equipment was fascinating to read. I felt that this book showed some vulnerability in Lincoln which was nice to see that he wasn’t just a crime solving machine.
The second book was The Skin Collector, this is the 11th installment in the series.
This installment I also found to be a real page turner and I loved getting to read about Rhyme taking on another criminal. In this book the weapon of choice was poison, which was administered via an unvoluntary tattoo by the criminal. I also found this quite a unique way to poison someone and I hadn’t really read of that before which was intriguing. The killer leaves messages with these tattoos and we are able to read as Rhyme and his team try to find the killer and what these messages mean.
I was a fan of this book as well, and I think it gave more of an insight into Rhyme as a Character and more about how he works with his team to find out who is responsible for these crimes. This installment has links back to The Bone Collector which was the very first book in the series which I liked, even though I haven’t read the first one. I liked how even though it was the 11th in a series it is still connected to the book 10 books prior.
I felt this book gave more of an insight into Amelia Sachs as we see her connection with 19 year old Pam whom Sachs has taken under her wing. This relationship does make referals to previous books however I didn’t feel as though I couldn’t understand the relationship and I still enjoyed it!
There is also a TV series, Lincoln Rhyme Hunt for the Bone Collector, which was released in January 2020 which I haven’t watched yet but I do intend to! Comment below if you have seen it !
I feel that book books were skillfully told, with twist and turns to keep your pages turning with them. I would recommend to read these, especially to those who enjoy mystery, thriller crime books!