Book reviews

Book Review: The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

The Fact of A Body

Title: The Fact of a Body
Author: Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich
Pages: 326
Genre: True crime, memoir
Publication date: May 16th 2017 by Flatiron Books

The Fact of a Body is one of those books that is hard to categorize: it’s part memoir, part true crime book. A disturbing story about the murder of a young boy – but also much more than that.

It’s hard to say where this story starts and where it ends. Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich begins a summer job at a law firm in Louisiana, working to help defend men accused of murder, and she thinks her decisions and opinions are clear. She is against the death penalty. She does not want anyone to die. As the daughter of a lawyer, this is an opinion she has lived by ever since she knew what it meant.

But then she dives into the case of Ricky Langley, a pedophile and child murderer convicted of the murder on six-year-old Jeremy Guillory. She hears his voice, sees his taped confession, reads his files. And the moment his faces flashes on the screen Alexandria knows: she wants Ricky Langley to die. She is shocked by her reaction, which only makes her dig into this case deeper.

We unravel the story of Ricky, which is written in a way that it feels like a novel. Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich used all the files and documents she could get her hands on to reconstruct his life. And although no facts have been altered, the author – as she says it – ‘layered her own imagination on the bare-bones record of the past to bring it to life.’ 

And as we unravel the story of Ricky Langley, we also unravel the painful story of Alexandria herself. We get an exceptionally intimate account of her childhood, about the sexual abuse and loss she dealt with at a young age, and about how her family dealt with these dark secrets.

Through her story, we learn how Alexandria’s past impacts her present. How the things she has been through affect her view of Ricky and the law in general. This impactful story rattled my insides, it made me feel sick and unsettled after I finished it. Yet it’s also one of the most beautiful books I have ever read.  Continue reading “Book Review: The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich”

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Book reviews · Poetry

Poetry Review: Chatterbox by Sandy Day

Chatterbox sandy day

Title: Chatterbox
Author: Sandy Day
Pages: 132
Genre: poetry
Publication date: January 20th 2018 (first published July 2011)

Chatterbox is a poetry collection consisting of one hundred and ten poems written during a year of marriage disintegration. The poems explore a world of bewildering emotions ranging from sadness and terror to anger and enlightenment. The collection, divided in four different parts  – Chattering, scattering, craving and knocking – guides you through all of these emotions.

And this is exactly the part that I loved most about this collection. Every single poem brought it’s own little piece to the puzzle, adding to the overall story being told by the author. I myself have never dealt with divorce, but that made no difference in the relatability of this collection.

Each and every poem is a separate work, but they all fit into the bigger picture of dealing with loss, betrayal, abandonment, resentment and bitterness. And that’s what makes these poems so real – it reads like the author is finally speaking up after years and years of silence. Like the author is finally allowing herself to feel emotions that she wasn’t allowed to feel before.  Continue reading “Poetry Review: Chatterbox by Sandy Day”

Book reviews

Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic book review

Title: A Darker Shade of Magic
Author: V.E. Schwab
Pages: 384
Genre: YA/Adult Fantasy, Adventure
Publication date: February 24th, 2015

Alternate Londons, dark magic, a crossdressing thief and lots of blood. V.E. Schwab completely sucked me into this novel.

A Darker Shade of Magic is one of those books that was incredibly hyped in the book community, and that’s why I was reluctant to pick it up initially. I have a history with not liking (over)hyped books, so I’ve been picking up less and less books based on the recommendation of people online and I try to go more with my gut feeling. However, I’m trying to diversify my reading this year, and since I don’t read a ton of fantasy, this seemed like the perfect book for me. 

In this peculiar novel we follow Kell, a rare magician with the exceptional ability to travel between the alternate Londons. There is Red London – Kell’s home – Grey London, White London, and Black London, the last one being completely cut off from the rest of them. Kell acts as an ambassador between the Londons, carrying messages between the royal families. In his spare time, Kell smuggles little magical trinkets to Grey London, which has no magic at all.

When Kell comes across Lila, things take a turn for the worse. When a mysterious relic from Black London – a relic that should have been destroyed – reappears, Kell and Lila must do what they can to protect it from all those who wish to claim it as their own.

V.E. Schwab is a very skilled writer, that’s for sure. I tend to like really flowery and poetic writing, but Schwab’s style is clear, concise and she never uses more words than necessary. She knows how to create a detailed fantasy world without dumping tons of info on you. Her characters are flawed, multidimensional and well-rounded.  Continue reading “Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab”

Book reviews

Book Review: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

salt to the sea book review

Title: Salt to The Sea
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Pages: 393
Genre: Young Adult, historical fiction
Publication date: February 2nd, 2016

It’s hard to review books that depict real, often horrific events. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys is such a book. It’s a historical fiction novel based on the wreckage of the Wilhelm Gustloff, a German military transport ship which was sunk on the 30th of  January, 1945. By one estimate, a total of 9,400 people died, which makes it the largest loss of life in a single ship sinking in history.

Salt to the Sea is a young adult novel, very similarly written to Sepetys’ other book, Between Shades of Gray. Simple, short sentences. Even some of the characters reminded me of that book, and the story of Between Shades of Gray main character Lina is also woven into this book, albeit a bit haphazardly.

“Just when you think this war has taken everything you loved, you meet someone and realize that somehow you still have more to give.”

Because this book contains four different POV’s, it was hard for me to get into the story. We usually only stayed with one character for two or three pages, and sometimes even less. This, in combination with the simple language, made it hard for me to connect to any of the characters. Just as I was getting into one story, we were jumping to the next. And the first three quarters of the book, I had the feeling that we were still at the very beginning of the storyline.  Continue reading “Book Review: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys”

Book reviews

Book Review: They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera

they both die at the end adam silvera book reviewTitle: They Both Die At The End
Author: Adam Silvera
Pages: 368
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary/magical realism(?)
Publication date: September 5th, 2017
On September 5, a little after midnight, DeathCast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.

 

In They Both Die At The End, Adam Silvera reminds us that life cannot exist without death, and love cannot exist without pain.

The book is set in a contemporary New York City in 2017. However: one element is different from this world compared to our own.  The existence of DeathCast, an organisation that figured out when people are going to die and calls them on their ‘End Day’ to let them know.

The story opens with Mateo, that gets the infamous call. Almost instantly you feel sorry for him, because Mateo understandably doesn’t feel like his life is finished, as he’s still a teenager. Mateo doesn’t have much of a social life and downloads the Last Friend app. He gets a few messages from people that are up to no good – I liked that Silvera took the time to explore the sociocultural constructions of society and life around his alternate reality. There were a lot of things available for consumption around the Death-Cast app which made it feel that much more realistic.

Then the story then starts switching POV’s when Rufus comes in the picture. By the way, I haven’t seen many people talk about this but Rufus says a lot of ‘yo’ and ‘we out’ in this book, which I guess is to make him sound more ‘hood’? It felt forced and stereotypical. Mateo and Rufus meet up and start hanging out, knowing that for the both of them, this is their last chance to do what they want, say goodbye to loved ones and tie loose ends together.

“Maybe it’s better to have gotten it right and been happy for one day instead of living a lifetime of wrongs.”

Continue reading “Book Review: They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera”