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review 2020-03-05 00:40
Under the microscope
It Takes One - Kate Kessler

Continuing with the theme of 'murder murder murder' I picked up It Takes One by Kate Locke which is a psychological thriller taking place in a small rural town. (Looking at the descriptions of some of Locke's other books it seems like 'small town murder mystery' might be a specialty of hers.) Audrey Harte is a criminal psychologist who is frequently asked to lend her opinion on true crime shows where a professional analysis is required. Unbeknownst to her colleagues, she has a dark past that she's been trying to leave behind for years. You see Audrey murdered her best friend's father when they were kids and spent several years at a juvenile facility for violent girls. O_O So when she goes home for the first time in several years and a body turns up...you can imagine where the fingers start pointing. Now Audrey has to find the killer before either she's found guilty or dead. I will say that when you find out whodunit it is a SHOCK to say the least.


This is the first in a series featuring Audrey Harte as the main character but I think I've probably had my fill after reading this one. (She's not particularly likable if you want my opinion and the explicit sex scenes are not my cup of tea.) A surprising ending doesn't override the fact that I've read better psychological thrillers. 5/10


What's Up Next: The 7th Victim by Alan Jacobson


What I'm Currently Reading: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo


Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2020-02-25 10:18
'Red Hood' is a bold and bloody tale of female empowerment; the predator becomes the hunted, and toxic masculinity is left to die in the woods
Red Hood - Elana K. Arnold

The first word I thought of to describe ‘Red Hood’ is outstanding. It holds a potent message of female empowerment and gives us a whole new image of ‘Little Red Hiding Rood,’ and it’s coated in so much blood it feels like a murder-mystery. If just that makes you uncomfortable or woozy, you probably won’t be able to handle all the intense themes and topics* that author Elana K. Arnold weaves into this hypnotic coming-of-age tale. But if you love a brave story where cruel realities meet bold fantasy and aren't afraid to enter the woods, you should definitely proceed.

There are countless stories where women and girls are at the mercy of men, of predators, where they are abused and assaulted, and it takes a lot for retribution to happen. Sometimes it never does. They are stories that mirror reality and they are hard to read and hear because they are too familiar to many of us.
'Red Hood' flips that story on its tail, with Bisou discovering her birthright when she gets her first period at the light of the full moon on Homecoming night; she suddenly has the otherworldly power to fight and kill the predators she can now sense in the dark Seattle woods. Bisou can sense when the wolves, these broken boys, are attacking their prey, and she is compelled by her own past, her bloodline, to protect and save these young women, these girls, and go on the hunt.

With a story loaded with an emotional hot-button issue like sexual assault (and revenge-killing) in a social climate where the #MeToo movement is on everyone's radar, this book is sure to catch the attention of a lot of readers. And it will be the reason some have to stay away; that's fine, we know our limits.
There will be discussion over whether 'killing the wolf' (and whether an 'eye for an eye') is justified. But I liken this kind of justice to that of other vigilantes out there in our fantasy worlds, our superheroes, Batman, Arrow, Hawkeye. I have to wonder if this kind of vengeance is called into question further because it's a woman carrying it out and because of the connection to sex. And no, I don't think we have to answer how the 'boy became the wolf' because that's a whole other story, and not for Bisou's tale. We don't always have to answer where the evil comes from to know that we have to get rid of it.

I struggled to write this review, as I often have when a book really blows me away. I’d been lost for words since I read it, but thought about it a lot, and had somewhat pointlessly ‘written’ a review in my mind several times. I just want others to feel the way I did when I read it, clinging to every word.
Last year, it was ‘The Grace Year’ by Kim Liggett that did the same thing for me. Both books portray women finding their place, their truth, and their power, albeit through very different stories and means, but both left me feeling that women can change their circumstances, they can be emboldened and empowered, and that they are ENOUGH. 'Red Hood' is magical and profound. It's also an intimate tale of one girl's discovery of her tragic past and her personal power. And as I said, it's outstanding.

*Aside from sexual assault, murder, revenge-killing and rape, some themes and topics raised: sexual intercourse (including loss of virginity, and teen sex), drug and alcohol use, menstruation, abuse, bullying, suicide, self-harm, stalking, toxic masculinity, harassment. 

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/46159058-red-hood
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review 2019-06-27 21:53
My Life as a Rat by Joyce Carol Oates
My Life as a Rat - Joyce Carol Oates

This is a complicated book.
It’s as much about Violet Rue as it is about the men that abuse her and the women that allow this abuse to happen. Although the book takes place over a number of years, Violets lack of character growth is reflective of the cycles of abuse that she finds herself in, which I enjoyed as a narrative and structural choice. Moreover, the pieces of flash fiction that are interspaced between the longer chapters do well to add to the sense of growth for the other characters as well as accentuating how stunted Violet has become. This makes her decision at the end of the novel all the more cathartic for the reader.
However, The first 100 pages of this book were very difficult to get through as it lacked anything that would make the reader latch on to the characters and care about Violet (given this is a character-driven novel). Yet once the actual plot of the book got going and Violet began her journey I found the book to be very interesting. But I can say that sadly although I enjoyed the book overall if I hadn’t been intending to review the book and hadn’t been sent it by the publishers then I doubt I would have made it past that first chunk.
The relationships in this book lack the intimacy that a person would expect from a novel like this. There is sexual intimacy but no romantic chemistry for the most part which was a welcome change from what we normally see from books of this genre. And since Violet's loneliness blended well with this theme it is clear that Joyce Carol Oates had clear intentions of what she wanted to say with this book.
Having said that the theme of Racism that runs through this book is also controversial and I implore you to seek out a black reviewer to read about their opinions on its presentation.
Overall, this is an interesting character study on the effects of separation and abuse on a child and if those first 100 pages weren't so difficult to get through this would be a 5 Star read. I will certainly read another book by this author again.
⚠Trigger Warning: Paedophilia, Sexual Assault, Racism, Domestic Violence, Implied Animal Abuse⚠

I was sent this book as an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

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review 2019-06-23 22:28
The Half-God of Rainfall
The Half-God of Rainfall - Inua Ellams

This is Percy Jackson for grown-ups. ⚡
Inua Ellams does it again with an outstanding novella about heartache, motherhood and abuse.
I was enamoured from the very first line:
Portrait of Prometheus
as a basketball player.

Every word in this collection was perfectly chosen. Its concise writing style makes for an easy read despite the difficult topics that the author is discussing and this is largely thanks to his ability to craft relatable characters despite some being Minor Gods. I felt the rise and falls of these characters with an amount of emotion I didn't know I felt for them.
Character crafting in poetry can be especially difficult. However, I found it easy to distinguish one character from another because of how different they were. Petty female vs female hatred did not exist in the pages of this novel and considering some of the characters involved and how they are portrayed generally by other writers, I found to be very refreshing. Not only this but the format of this novel- free verse poetry split into books and acts, was something I had never seen for a book like this and very much enjoyed. I think this works very well here due to the influence Greek gods have on the story. The structure can be compared to a classic Greek tragedy and when you realise that it makes rereading the novel and an even better experience (especially as it made me realised that this was more the story of Modupe, Demi's mother before the perspective switched back to her).
This is a diverse multi-generational exploration of sexual assault that should be missed by no one.
⚠Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault, PTSD

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/2865572106
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review 2019-04-16 23:32
Heart-wrenching, raw, and incredibly honest portrait of self-harming and recovery in 'Girl In Pieces'; it was emotionally hard to read but this book is so VERY important
Girl in Pieces - Kathleen Glasgow

I'm going to dare to reveal a bit of myself in this review because it absolutely affected my reading.
I had the early reader’s copy for this brilliant book for a few years before I could bring myself to read all the way through it, and I even started it once and couldn’t continue, shelving it for at least a year or so before picking it up a second time. It was an intense and very difficult read for me because of the subject matter, and I got through it after reading Kathleen Glasgow’s excellent second book ‘How to Make Friends with The Dark’ which was almost as difficult for me to read, and equally amazing. Together, these two books encompass so much of my own experience it’s heartbreakingly uncanny, and I was lucky enough to even let Kathleen know this when I met her at her own book signing here in Seattle recently.

I’ve been that ‘girl in pieces’ like Charlie, like the many young women out there hiding their scars from others, under clothing or bandages, caused by cutting, burning, or whatever ‘needed’ to be done in that painful moment. It was a long and very hard journey for me to heal enough from depression, grief, anxiety, self-harming behavior, and PTSD, to where I felt I could cope with life again. The book is honest and gritty, and since Kathleen knows exactly what this all feels like, she understood what I meant when I said it took me a few years to get around to reading this; in the author’s note, she writes that it took her nine years to get this book onto paper. But she’s here. I’m here.
This book is actually about hope, and that’s honestly why I really want many many young women, girls, to read this.


When I read ‘Girl In Pieces’ my journey and all sorts of things came back to me, and yes, this is why the book was so hard to read; it brought up thoughts and feelings I hadn’t had for years. I know that’s what will make it hard for others to read too. The cover is a trigger warning or just a plain trigger itself; I don’t know that anyone seeing that will have any doubt as to what this book is about. While the subjects within are difficult to read about, those who understand them stand to benefit the most.
It takes a boatload of talent to tackle all kinds of really difficult issues: drug abuse, sexual abuse, abandonment, parental neglect, grief, suicide, self-harming (and foster kids in her next novel), but Glasgow does a lot in this one book. Some reviews point out that there’s 'too much' in this one book but that’s the point; self-harming is rooted in deep pain borne from many issues, it doesn’t happen out of a vacuum. Many of these issues collide and Glasgow writes about them from her depths of her soul, from her personal experience.

There are a number of different characters in the book (the deeply wounded Charlie, the toxic Riley, counselor Casper, Charlie’s mom, a number of different friends who play varied roles in Charlie’s life along the way), and they’re all memorable and painfully vivid, often uncomfortably so. And Charlie's awkwardness, fear, pain, and bravery can be felt on every page. It's hard and absolutely heart-wrenching to read but it's incredibly worth it.


I'll end this by saying that some readers won't 'get' this book at all, others desperately need to read it and will likely have a hard time with it. But this book will reach some people and it will resonate deeply with them. When a book can touch you deep down it can stay with you forever. But scars and memories stay with you forever too, no matter how far in the past, and this story is a reminder of that.
Thank you, Kathleen Glasgow, for writing this book. I wish I'd read this a long time ago, even if I'm not sure I would've been ready. But I'm glad it's out there in this big wide scary world.






Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/29236380-girl-in-pieces
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